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Pragmatic Realism in Justice and Security Development: Supporting Improvement in the Performance of Non-State/Local Justice and Security Networks

Current approaches to post-colonial statebuilding in fragile and post-conflict states have met limited success. Given that context, this report by Eric Scheye of Netherlands Institute of International Relations recommends a “pragmatic realism” approach for donor support of statebuilding efforts. Non-state/local justice and security networks represent a considerable portion of the polities from which post-colonial states derive their authority, while also delivering unmatched legitimacy, local ownership, and accessibility. Consequently, pragmatic realism means that statebuilding must begin with working with this “second state.” Though non-state actors can violate human rights principles, they are not necessarily more prone to do so than state institutions and are often more malleable, so while discernment must be used in engaging these groups, often violations can be addressed. Scheye concludes by exploring some potential challenges to the approach as well as practical concerns for implementation by the development community. Read the full report here.

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