State Failure and Local Governance in Somalia and Afghanistan


Human Security, Structural Stability, Good Governance, State Failure


Somalia, Afghanistan


The project analyses governance structures in Afghanistan and Somalia, both of which have been affected by state collapse and a legacy of protracted civil wars. Today, Somalia and Afghanistan are characterised by a centrifugal distribution of power, a lack of the state's monopoly of force, and the absence of basic governance standards. In consequence, levels of insecurity and political fragmentation are extremely high. The nationwide level of administration and socio-economic indicators are very low.

Despite these similarities, a number of differences in the way of self-governing can be discerned. In the case of Somalia, the failure of the nation-building process and the ongoing anarchy led to the emergence of the quasi-state of Somaliland: A self-governing and relatively effective political system which guarantees a certain degree of security and economic prosperity. While Somaliland succeeded to fulfil basic governance functions, the international community refuses to recognize the country as a state in order to abide the integrity of the state of Somalia.

Contrary to this, the international interest in the statehood of Afghanistan combines with a strong identification of the Afghan people with their common nation. However, the inability of the Afghan government to rule the country beyond Kabul goes hand in hand with the strengthening of self-governance on the communal level. Thus security issues, administration and political decision-making are usually organised by the communities, which are often enough influenced or determined by political hierarchies and warlordism. The recent effort of the Afghan government to strengthen local governance structures entails the peril of boosting the legitimacy of warlords and the position of the ruling local elites.


Comparative analysis of case studies, actors and network analysis

Main Cooperation Partners

  • Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung (DSF)
  • Institut für Entwicklung und Frieden (INEF), Universität Duisburg-Essen
Further information

12.02.2005 Internal Workshop on Network Analysis and Conflict Mapping


Debiel, Tobias, (2003): Staatsversagen, Gewaltstrukturen und blockierte Entwicklung: Haben Krisenländer noch eine Chance?, in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), (2003) B 13-14, S. 15-23.

Debiel, Tobias/Axel Klein (Hg.), (2002): Fragile Peace. State Failure, Violence and Development in Crisis Regions. London: ZED Books.

Terlinden, Ulf, (2004): FAST Update Somalia. Quarterly Risk Assessment: May to September 2004. Berne, 13.10.2004,

Terlinden, Ulf/Tobias Debiel, (2004): Deceptive Hope for Peace? The Horn of Africa Between Crisis Diplomacy and Obstacles to Development, in: Peace, Conflict & Development: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Issue 4, April 2004, Bradford.

Terlinden, Ulf/Tobias Debiel, (2005): Promoting Good Governance in Post-Conflict Societies, Discussion Paper, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Eschborn, 45 pp.

Terlinden, Ulf/Tobias Debiel, (2003): Somaliland: Building governance bottom-up, in: ZEF News, No. 14, December 2003, pp.1-2.

Terlinden, Ulf/Tobias Debiel, (2003): Trügerische Friedenshoffnungen? Das Horn von Afrika zwischen Krisendiplomatie und Entwicklungsblockaden, in: Rolf Hofmeier/Andreas Mehler (Hg.)(2003), Afrika Jahrbuch 2002. Opladen, S.57-68.

Terlinden, Ulf/Ekkehard Forberg, (1999): Small Arms in Somaliland: Their Role and Diffusion. Field Report, Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security (BITS), Nairobi/Berlin, March 1999, 66 pages.

Wimmer, Andreas/Conrad Schetter, (2003): Putting State-formation First: Some Recommendations for Reconstruction and Peace-Making in Afghanistan, in: Journal for International Development 15, S. 525-539.

Duration of the Project

July 2004  - December 2005

Project Homepage


Conrad Schetter

PD Dr. Conrad Schetter


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