2010

SWP 9

Security by Militia, but for Whom? Non-State Actors and Security Governance in Nigeria
Sebastian Merz

Abstract

Vigilante groups and militias play a crucial role in dispensing force and controlling security in weak states. Acknowledging the significance of non-state actors is necessary to reconnect our understanding of security governance with empirical realities outside the OECD world. In principal, militias can be an alternative to state security forces, but in practice their impact on public safety is often ambivalent. The question is therefore whether and under which circumstances these groups can provide security as a public good and how they interact with other actors. Recent attempts to extend governance analysis to weak states can help us understand the complexity of civil militias and their behaviour. This paper develops an analytical framework to study security provision by non-state actors based on their security output and their interactions with society and the state, and applies it to two Nigerian militias—the Bakassi Boys and the Oodua People‘s Congress. The cases illustrate how security providers can easily turn into security threats, and they shed light on the impact of non-state actors on security governance, not only in Nigeria, but in weak states including such high-profile cases like Iraq and Afghanistan.

SWP 8

Is Government in India Becoming More Responsive? Has Democratic Decentralisation Made a Difference? 
John Harriss

Abstract

This paper reviews evidence and argument concerning the quality of government in India, especially provision of basic services, and the extent to which democratic decentralisation has helped to make government more responsive. As Lant Pritchett has put it, India appears in many ways to be a 'flailing state'. India is quite clearly not a 'failing state' – the central functions of government are often performed with exceptional competence – but the delivery of basic services is generally very poor. The paper explores why poor people, who tend to participate more actively in electoral politics than wealthier people, and who would greatly benefit from better public health, education and other services, do not hold politicians (or the bureaucrats in charge of service delivery) democratically accountable for poor public provisioning. Why has the implementation of progressive social legislation been left substantially to judicial activism? Answers to these questions are found in the idea that India is a 'patronage democracy'. In these circumstances, government appears most responsive in states with the highest newspaper circulation and a history of lower-class political mobilisation (Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal). Democratic decentralisation, through the panchayat system of local government, remains controversial as to its implementation and long-term 
outcomes, but achievements thus far have been limited.

SWP 7

Users and Producers of African Income: Measuring the Progress of African Economies 
Morten Jerven

Abstract

This article traces how African incomes have been measured through history. There has been a conflict of aims between producers and users of the national income estimates. Politicians and international organisations wish income measures to reflect current political and economic priorities and achievements. Thus, the importance given to markets, the state and peasants in the estimates varies through time and space. Meanwhile, statisticians aim to produce a measure that best reflects the economy given the available data and definitions at any time. Scholars would prefer a measure that is consistent through time and space, so as to analyze and compare ‘progress’, but they cannot agree on how ‘progress’ is best defined. The result is not an objective measure, but rather an expression of development priorities determined by changes in the political economy. The article provides a much needed study of the ability of the statistical offices to independently and regularly provide income statistics. These data are of crucial importance, as they enter the public domain in policy evaluations, political debates and assessments of progress towards lofty goals such as the Millennium Development Goals.

SWP 6

Theoretical Synthesis in IR: Possibilities and Limits 
Jeffrey T. Checkel

Abstract

This draft chapter for the Sage Handbook of International Relations, 2nd Edition, offers a critical assessment of bridge building and pluralism in contemporary international-relations (IR) theory. I begin by placing recent moves towards theoretical synthesis in context, asking why one saw an upsurge of interest in bridge-building only beginning in the mid-1990s. Then I assess these efforts in three areas – international institutions, normative theory, and studies of civil war – in each case, detailing how and to what extent theoretical pluralism has come to define a particular subfield. I argue that contemporary IR does look different, and better, thanks to synthesis and bridge building. In conclusion I note two challenges – theoretical cumulation and meta-theory. These, I argue, should be at the heart of a reinvigorated research program on synthesis, one where theory is taken seriously and epistemological divides are transgressed.

SWP 5

Administrative Development in 'Low-Intensity' Democracies: Governance, Rule-of-Law and Corruption in the Western Balkans 
Lenard J. Cohen

Abstract

Although the Western Balkan states achieved considerable progress in pluralist development during the post-2000 period, weakness in both state-building and democracy-building continues to trouble the region. This article explores the dimensions of the “weak state syndrome”, particularly the interaction between democratic consolidation and deficiencies in administrative capacity (including limited professionalization and the politicization of the public service, patterns of corruption, and problems of judicial development and decentralization). Afflicted as well by the global economic crisis that began in 2008, most of the Western Balkan states remain trapped in an intermediate zone; clearly no longer repressive authoritarian systems, but not yet consolidated or strong democracies. This situation will delay EU entry for most states in the region, and influence their post-accession development.

SWP 4

African Growth Recurring: An Economic History Perspective on African Growth Episodes, 1690–2010 
Morten Jerven

Abstract

Africa has not suffered a chronic failure of growth. African growth has been recurring. This paper reviews some growth spurts to substantiate that claim. The proximate cause of low income in Africa is the sequence of boom and bust. This significantly reorients the central research question—away from a search for the root causes of African underdevelopment and towards explaining causes and effects of growth and decline. The growth spurts are approached as local responses to a global demand for African produced commodities. It is argued that these supply responses involved more than a reallocation of land and labour; they entailed investment and institutional change. It is precisely because these periods of rapid economic change and accumulation caused important social and organizational changes that they cannot be ignored, as they have tended to be in the search for a root cause of chronic failure.

SWP 3

‘Participation’ and Contestation in the Governance of Indian Cities
John Harriss 

Abstract

This paper was prepared for a conference organized by the University of Michigan and the Centre for Social Studies, Kolkata, and held at the Centre in March 2010, around the theme of ‘Contesting the Indian City: State, Space and Citizenship in the Global Era’. The paper, concerned specifically with contestation over the governance of Indian cities, shows that the stated intentions of the Government of India with regard to the democratization of urban governance through decentralization have not yet been realized. They are in any case opposed, in effect, by the way in which the accountability of city governments has been compromised by other innovations that are sanctioned by the current ‘governance’ agenda.

SWP 2

The Islamist Trend in Egyptian Law
Tamir Moustafa

Abstract

NOTE: The final version of this paper was published in Politics and Religion, 3 (2010), 610–630. Click here to access.

The past four decades have witnessed profound transformations in the Egyptian legal system and in the Egyptian legal profession. Article two of the Egyptian Constitution now enshrines Islamic jurisprudence as the principle source of law, thus establishing an important symbolic marker at the heart of the state and opening avenues for Islamist activists to press litigation campaigns in the courts. Additionally, the Islamist trend gained prominence within the legal profession, a development that is particularly striking given the long and illustrious history of the Lawyer’s Syndicate as a bastion of liberalism. Despite these significant shifts, however, Islamist litigation has achieved only limited legal victories. This article traces the political and socioeconomic variables that underlie the Islamist trend in Egyptian law, and examines the impact of Islamist litigation in the Egyptian courts.

SWP 1

Transnational Dynamics of Civil War
Jeffrey T. Checkel 

Abstract

This paper sets the theoretical and methodological framework for a collection of essays on transnational dimensions of civil war. The author begins with a review of recent research that establishes the transnational nature of civil war as premise and identifies key puzzles to be addressed. He then argues that progress in addressing these puzzles requires a two-fold analytic-theoretical move – to the language and practice of causal mechanisms and to theories of transnationalism. The claim is that work on transnational politics offers specific ways to make operational the often vague diffusion mechanism invoked in much of the civil war literature. Next, he connects the analytics and theory to data by focusing on method, advancing a roster of techniques for conducting mechanism-based social science and suggesting appropriate community standards for doing it well. He concludes by previewing the other essays in the collection.