What Should the Security Council Be Doing to Establish or Restore Order in Fragile States


Research has revealed that failed states are the cause of the deep challenges facing international relations and security (Ghani & Lockhart 2009, p. 2). This is due to the fact that these states act as incubators for terrorist groups such as Taliban and Al-Qaida. It is imperative to note that these states have fragile governments, a factor that give room for transshipment of illegal weapons that are used to commit terror acts (Lowe et al. 2008, p.4). For this reason, it is apparent that terrorism has immensely become common and its trend strikes fear in the minds of people all over the globe (Galloway 2011, p. 2). Research evidences have revealed that after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the western world gained concern over what was considered as a “failed state” in the global south. Notably, issues related to humanitarian crisis, conflicts and insecurity have been common occurrences of late. This has hearkened policymakers and advocates to re-channel and gather military resources to act against such cases. For instance, the UN Security Council has employed vigorous strategies to restore order in the fragile states (Ghani & Lockhart 2009, p. 12). It is against this backdrop that this paper intends to examine what the Security Council is doing to establish or restore order in fragile and failed states using specific examples.

An overview of the concept of “failed states”

To begin with, it is important to understand the concept of “failed state” as used in the research paper. Research studies in political sciences have revealed that the concept of ‘failed state” was introduces in 1992 in academic field (Ghani & Lockhart 2009, p. 3). It is important to note that the manner in which the concept has been understood is quite problematic. Scholars have for a long time disagreed on the precise definition of the concept. From an analytical point of view, the concept is based on vague assumptions. In this case, it is cumbersome to define the concept as it has been used in numerous applications. It is imperative to note that though the western world experienced numerous acts of terrorism in 2001, it may not be a solid fact to assume that they are fragile or failed state as analysts claim (Lowe et al. 2008, p.8). It is definite that if we examine the issues of security, humanitarian and governance crisis, then every state is a “failed state”. Nevertheless, it is ironical that only specific states have been regarded as fragile states (Bukovac 2011, p. 12).

One of the most profound strategies used by the Security Council to restore order in failed states entails the use of military force. As a matter of fact, military intervention has been perceived to provide a long lasting solution against impending issues such as terrorism, human rights violations and illegal accumulation of arms (Bukovac 2011, p. 23). It is imperative to note that through this strategy, the Security Council has managed to rebuild and restore several states. For instance, in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the council has managed to disarm terror groups such as al-Qaida and Taliban (Bukovac 2011, p. 23). In this case, the council has rebuilt both the economic and military institutions putting them under state control.

Efforts made by Security Council to restore order in failed states

The Security Council has been disturbed by the outrageous and indiscriminate acts of human rights violations and terrorism in fragile states. This is also closely attached to terrorist attacks that took place in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania (Saul 2005, p.58). Such acts were highly condemned since they caused damaging effects in international security and relations. Therefore, the council was convinced that there was an urgent need to restore order in fragile states and specifically those that are known to harbor nuclear weapons. In this case, the council adopted all forms of manifestations to demonstrate that the international community was determined to restore order in fragile states (Galloway 2011, p. 4).

Therefore, one of the biggest wars as far as the Security Council is concerned is fighting terrorism. There are specific strategies which the Security Council has used to react against terror acts. Studies have shown that the Council has played a significant role in fighting international terrorism (Saul 2005, p.58). One of the effective strategies used is the formulation of international laws against terror acts. To enforce this, the UN Security Council adopted and enacted a resolution 1368 in September 2001 (Saul 2005, p.78). This resolution enabled the Council to react against threats of peace and security. Still in September 2001, the Council also enacted resolution 1373 that recognized the right to self-defense in accordance to article 51 of the UN charter (Galloway 2011, p. 7). That notwithstanding, the Security Council reaffirmed the obligation of every member state on the fight against terrorism. It stressed that members should refrain from instigating, assisting, organizing and participating in any form of terror act. Notably, the Counsel has also been mindful to implement resolutions that were made by General Assemble concerning the international convention against terrorism. These resolutions were formulated in 1997 and aimed at curtailing terrorist bombings. It is factual that the council has recalled a statement that was issued in 1992 during a session meeting with heads of states (Galloway 2011, p. 7). By so doing, it has effectively expressed deep concern and mobilized international community to fight terror acts.

In addition, the Security Council employed sanctions as an instrument of war against terrorism in fragile states (Saul 2005, p.62). To support this claim, evidence has shown that the council formulated sanction committees to curb Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist activities. Notably, the sanctions were directed to people and organizations that were claimed to have links with the terror groups. It is definite that the decision was derived from a consensus made in accordance to Chapter VII of the UN Charter (Galloway 2011, p. 9). Notably, sanctions that were imposed on terror groups included arms embargo, deprival of transits and freezing their assets. It is essential to note that economic coercion against fragile countries such as Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia immensely aided in reducing international tourism. Moreover, there have been numerous sanction regimes since the anti-terror war began. For instance, during the period around 1999-2009, numerous resolutions were implemented by Security Council (Saul 2005, p.80).

The Security Council realized that in order to restore international peace and security, there was need to restore and ensure that failed states existed as independent regimes capable of policing their population, territories and discharging national obligations (Ghani &Lockhart 2009, p. 26). In this case, the council employed both financial and military interventions to ensure that it coerced all forms of international threats. By so doing, this has ensured the malfunctioning state experience sovereignty and freedom form external interference and hence they advance their broad interest in the international arena.

Additionally, the United Nations Security Council has authorized action to end acts of human rights violations through use of economic sanctions on states such as South Africa, military intervention in Somalia, and fortified attacks in Bosnia. Moreover, numerous efforts have been made to primarily intervene and restore order in those nations. The Security Council has also employed coalitions with the United States to intervene and restore order in failed states such as Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia. Notably, research has revealed that ungoverned territories act as recruiting ground and operational base for terrorist groups such as al Qaeda in Afghanistan (Lowe et al. 2008, p.74). Therefore, the Security Council has established as central control to eliminate criminal organizations that fosters the spread small arms trade, and human trafficking (Bukovac 2011, p. 37). It is also important to note that weak states create a negative externality on the international system as a whole in regard to protection of human rights. This is due to the fact that such states lack enough governmental control to foil ethnic scandals. This has been evident in Rwanda where case of violence reached genocidal proportions. Therefore, to put to an end such incidences, the council has opted to use a collective approach to bring stability to such states.

Research has revealed that there has been a huge dilemma concerning the resolutions and reaction of Security Council in the process of restoring order in the failed states (Bianchi 2006, p. 881). Advocates claim that the Security Council makes resolutions that have similar binding effects on members and non-members. In this case, the advocates feel that some of the resolutions might be oppressive to non-member states and specifically the so called ‘fragile states’ (Saul 2005, p.80). However, the council decided to react harshly against vices in fragile states since they immensely jeopardize international security and global relations. Hence, the countermeasures were meant to foster international peace, security and restore order in failed states (Galloway 2011, p. 18).

Nevertheless, it is essential to note that there are several factors that have served as powerful disincentives for the Security Council’s effort to restore failed states. For instance, there exists a moral dilemma over whether some military interventions are appropriate in restoring order. Such military interventions include sanctions that are imposed on fragile states and specifically those linked with terror acts. Moreover, it has been expensive for the council to fund the military operations. Moreover, it is imperative to note that the United Nations discourages intervention of internal affairs of a country by another since this is perceived as a violation of the states integrity (Lowe et al. 2008, p.85). As a result, it has made it cumbersome for powerful nations to cooperate with the council in the intervention and use of armed forces to restore order in fragile states. In line with this, the UN recommends and advocates for state sovereignty, a factor that encourages fragile countries to decline fighting against efforts made to restructure their institutions. In this case, powerful states get discouraged to underscore the international law on states’ sovereignty at the expense of intervening to save such states from collapsing. In line with this, it is recommended that the Council should use its broad range of abilities at its disposal to restore order in failed states. Indeed, the Security Council should apply a collective approach to restore order in failed states. Moreover, it should envision use of economic, military and diplomatic sanctions where applicable to curb human rights violations, terrorism and endemic conflicts (Bianchi 2006, p. 882).

Efforts made by Security Council to restore order in failed states

A recap of the paper

To some extent, nations that have demonstrated appalling cases of human rights violations have been referred to as failed states. Examples of such countries include Somali, Yugoslavia, Haiti and Rwanda (Ghani & Lockhart 2009, p. 7). Research has revealed that many lives had been lost in these countries prior to the end of Second World War. These states have failed to perform their domestic functions effectively since their central government authorities have collapsed (Bukovac 2011, p. 15). In this case, they have been labeled to be opposites to the model of states in the western world. Notably, the ideal states in the western world have full sovereignty over their systems of governance and exercise full sovereign authority over their territories and populations (Lowe et al. 2008, p.11). Contrastingly, fragile states have governments that are unable to monopolize their legitimacy to the population and hence the situation has been left in the hands of international community. Research has revealed that in fragile states, non-state actors control population and resources since the government cannot provide public amenities to its population. This is a situation that is often witnessed especially when the economy of a state collapses. Consequently, this leads to increase in the inflow of refugees, starvation, and human rights violations. Additionally Physical infrastructural decay and living standards drop rapidly (Lowe et al. 2008, p.13).

Nevertheless, the debate still persists and scholars have not arrived at a consensus over which nations have failed. It is assumed that prior to the end of the Cold War; there were states that had been unleashing ethnic, religious and racial animosities (Ghani & Lockhart 2009, p.14). Moreover, they have been suppressed by authoritarian regimes, a factor that has resulted into violation of human rights. In connection to this, early scholars suggested that successor states such as SOVIET and Yugoslavia fall in this category and can be considered as failed states. On the other hand, modern scholars have come up with another set of defining fragile states. These scholars argue that some states in Africa and Asia can be regarded as failed states (Lowe et al. 2008, p.43). This is due to the fact that after the end of Second World War, decolonization placed some of these states in a position of self determination yet they were not able to govern themselves. Therefore, in the wake of Cold War, countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia remained afloat as super powers competed for influence in third world countries.

In line with this, countries that have historically failed to support their governments have been considered as failed states. Examples of such states include Haiti and Afghanistan which have remained vulnerable to endemic civil wars and tribal rivalries (Lowe et al. 2008, p.62). Researchers came up with indexes to measure nations that have the worst functioning governments. In addition, the World Bank considers states with extreme levels of poverty, low levels of economic growth, high illiteracy levels and violent conflicts as failed states. In this case, there are specific features that pose challenge to the international relations and thus they call for urgent attention. For instance, issues affecting international relation and security have greatly raised alarm among veto powers and urgent intervention measures have been taken to restore order in such states (Bukovac 2011, p. 12). For instance, the fact that most failed states serve as incubators for terror groups explains why the Security Council has forged ahead to inhibit such activities and restore order in such states.


In summing up, it is worth noting that even though there is still lack of unanimity on the concept of failed states, it is indeed factual that such states exist. In general terms, failed states are vulnerable to violations of human rights, they experience extreme levels of poverty, they may be made up of illegitimate governments and also act as incubators for acts of terror. In this case, such states have been perceived as potential source of threat to international security and relations. Therefore, the United Nations Security Council has employed numerous strategies to restore order in these states. Commonly used strategies include use of economic, military ad diplomatic forces to ensure that these states establish sovereign and legitimate governments that are able to monitor the population and resources. In addition, significant improvements have been observed in states such as Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and South Africa. Notably, efforts have been put in place by the Security Council to achieve far-reaching goals in maintaining order in fragile states.


Bianchi, A 2006, “Assessing the Effectiveness of the UN Security Council’s Anti-terrorism Measures: The Quest for Legitimacy and Cohesion”. The European Journal of International Law, vol. 17 no. 5, pp. 881-919.

Bukovac, M 2011, Failed States: Unstable Countries in the 21st Century. Rosen Publishing Group, New York

Galloway, F 2011, “Anti-Terrorism Resolutions: The Security Council’s Threat to the UN System”. Journal of Terrorism Research, vol. 2 no. 2, pp. 1-21.

Ghani, A, Lockhart, C 2009, Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. Oxford University Press, New York.

Lowe, V et al. 2008, The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945, Oxford University Press, New York.

Saul, B 2005, “Attempts to Define Terrorism in International Law.” Netherlands International Law Review vol. 52 no. 1, pp.57-83.

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DemoEssays. "What Should the Security Council Be Doing to Establish or Restore Order in Fragile States." January 4, 2023. https://demoessays.com/what-should-the-security-council-be-doing-to-establish-or-restore-order-in-fragile-states/.