Fragile states are countries that are extremely impoverished and have weak institutions. They have a very low capacity to fulfill the basic functions of a state, are poorly governed, and often experience political instability, including armed conflict. Armed civil conflict is both a cause and consequence of state fragility. Worse, fragility makes it likely that a state will experience conflict repeatedly, with violence restarting because the grievances that fueled rebellion in the first place remain unaddressed and the violence of war goes unpunished. In fact, most conflict onsets since the mid-1990s have been recurrences of earlier conflicts, many in fragile states. But conflict settlement periods are a window of opportunity for the international community to address state fragility in ways that make it less likely for conflict to break out again. Support for the negotiation of inclusive peace agreements, robust peacekeeping operations, and for building civil society and adopting political reforms can lead to durable peace even in the most fragile of states.
Dupuy, Kendra; Scott Gates & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2016) State Fragility and Armed Conflict, Conflict Trends, 7. Oslo: PRIO.