Fixing failed states - 29 Jul 08

Fixing failed states - 29 Jul 08

Peter Day talks to Ashraf Ghani, Director of the Institute for State Effectiveness and co-author of a new book ‘Fixing Failed States'.

He's seeking a big reform of the present system of international aid, and is also a keen advocate of the role that business can play in rebuilding failed economies.

By Peter Day

As I have already said in these notes, the Skoll Forum held every spring in Oxford is a wonderful place to catch up with some of the new breed of social entrepreneurs who are trying to change the world, much as the founders of the great European and American charities did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Some people are suspicious of the way these social entrepreneurs are setting their own agendas in society much as they did when they were building the businesses that made their fortune, without referenced to the expressed needs of others.

This is the privitisation of national mechanisms by other means, argue the critics..much like the "Shock Doctrine" of privitised disaster recovery by western corporations that the Canadian polemicist Naomi Klein writes so scathingly about in her recent book of that name.

But it is still difficult to see how international external arms and aid on whatever scale can bring peace and order to a country which has decayed to the status of a "failed state".

And that's what Ashraf Ghani talks about in this Global Business interview, recorded at this year's Skoll Forum.

A former World Bank man, he worked closely with the government of Afghanistan during its reconstruction from 2002 , and then became Finance Minister.

After that with a British lawyer Clare Lockhart he founded the Institute for State Effectiveness.

It is based in Washington DC but is trying to apply its principles to places such as Kosovo, Liberia, Southern Sudan and Nepal, where live some of the world's "bottom billion".

Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockwood have just written a book with the urgent title "Fixing Failed States"; that's what he talks about in this week's programme, explaining how business is so important to bring a country out of failure..and how international aid often makes the problem worse.

It is compelling stuff.


Ashraf Ghani
Director of the Institute for State Effectiveness and co-author of a new book ‘Fixing Failed States'.