Consensus is growing that the application of the Western model of the Nation State in post-crisis contexts poses many problems. This particular model of the State is at the foundation of the current international system. While it originates from the specific socio-historic context of Europe, the model is widely applied in post-crisis countries (post colonial, post-conflict and post-Soviet) under the assistance or influence of the international community. The conditions in which recent states are formed differ substantially. Mainstream models of state-building assume that state legitimacy can be established and state collapse avoided through international intervention combined with military presence, huge amounts of aid and democratic elections.
Realities on the ground lead us to question their effectiveness, at least in the way measures have been implemented. The focus of this conference is the question of the model of the state that is being "reformed" rather than on the methods of state reform or state-building.
While international and national actors are involved in the building of the state, local and regional actors are also involved in forming governance structures. They have received much less attention. The authorities taking over when states fail, and ultimately collapse, include the actors of war, such as military faction leaders; but they also include remnants of the former state administration, revitalized traditional authorities, religious courts, local businessmen, etc., who continue or begin to exercise authority as "functional equivalents" of the former state, at times aspiring to replace it. What is the legitimacy of those actors and how does it relate to the national level?
In addition to the question of political legitimacy of non-institutional actors, the conference will further focus on the issue of identity formation in relation to the state and the limits of state sovereignty. The conference will conclude with a reflection on research methodology, a discussion about how academic and policy-oriented research can be complementary in responding to the remaining questions that will arise during the conference.
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