Ungoverned Spaces? Alternatives to State Authority in an Era of Softened Sovereignty
Clunan, Anne L.
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"Ungoverned spaces" are increasingly cited as a key threat to the U.S. government and its interests throughout the world. Often these spaces are seen as synonymous with failed states, or states that are unable to effectively exercise sovereignty. A primary goal of U.S. defense strategy now is to improve “effective sovereignty” in such areas, in order to deny sanctuary to terrorists, WMD proliferators, narco-traffickers, and gangsters. According to the World Bank, in 2006 the number of states lacking effective sovereignty rose to twenty-six, from eleven in 1996. The larger project that this paper is part of proposes to analyze the concept of ungoverned spaces and determine whether they really are ungoverned and constitute threats to states. The essential issue, we find, is not lack of governance, but rather who governs these spaces. This paper aims to develop a more accurate framework for understanding contemporary security threats in a world of softened sovereignty. An improved understanding of when and how alternative forms of governance shelter or encourage hostile non-state actors has important policy implications for how states, particularly the United States, prioritize their responses to emerging threats.
Paper prepared for delivery at the International Studies Association 48th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 26-30th, 2008
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