July 11, 2005
There is growing recognition that significant threats to collective security emerge not only from competition among great powers, but also from the disorder, violence, and oppression wrought by governments (or occurring in the absence of effective governance) across the developing world. Scholars have responded by proposing new models of intervention—including neo-trusteeship and shared sovereignty—that respond to these failures of governance. But these calls for intervention rest on two underlying assumptions that have escaped serious consideration: the idea the countries cannot recover from conflict on their own and the argument that intervention is the best strategy for state-building. In this article, I define and describe a process of autonomous recovery in which states achieve a lasting peace, a systematic reduction in violence, and post-war political and economic development in the absence of international intervention. I offer a series of theoretical reasons to take it seriously and use case studies of recovery in Uganda, Eritrea, and Somalia to demonstrate how it works in practice. I conclude by identifying three tradeoffs—for the country on the receiving end of intervention—that policymakers confront when weighing whether and how to respond to internal conflict.
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