Dealing with Failed States
The work that the U.S. government did on economic and financial
reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq provided useful lessons on how to handle reconstruction and
stabilization in other post conflict situations. Indeed, the Task force on Financial
Reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, which we set up at Treasury, was recently generalized and expanded to
cover other post conflict countries such as Haiti and Liberia. (The new Task force is called he Task
Force on Financial Reconstruction and Stabilization and coordinates with a
corresponding office in the State Department).
As the items here
illustrate, it looks like these lessons learned will indeed be needed. There
have already been many articles written in the foreign policy community about
how to deal with “failed states.”
The first two items in
this section concern Haiti, discussing some of the practical difficulties the international
finance and development community faces when dealing with such failed states.
In the 1990s, many millions of dollars were raised by international donors for Haiti, but as Item 1 indicates much of this was
wasted. The second item in this section calls on the international community to
make sure the reconstruction assistance works this time, and encourages the
right economic and political reforms.
Indeed, that is a significant goal of the Treasury Task Force and the
people they have on the ground.
Like Haiti, the situation facing the transition
government in Liberia is very difficult, and experts from Treasury are working with the
finance minister and with the central bank governor to resolve these
Of course, the best
way to deal with failed states is to prevent them. As with many issues in
foreign policy, the best prevention is good policy in the countries, because
only then will international support be useful. The situation in the last few
years in Bolivia is a case in point for political stability
depends both on international assistance and the adoption of good policy for
the use of the energy resources.
Economic Development in Haiti, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 15, 2003
Reconstruction in Haiti Work This Time, Roundtable Meeting with
Haitian Community Leadership, Miami, Florida,
August 23, 2004
Reform in Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia,
September 12, 2004
Reform and U.S. Assistance in Bolivia, Public Statement during
Visit to Bolivia,
La Paz, September 3, 2004