Takes a critical look at the debate on state failure, examining the various ways that state-building programmes have impacted on the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. The author shows how unchallenged assumptions, unrealistic expectations and ignorance of local contexts can lead to political orders being imposed with little regard for domestic legitimacy or locally-driven solutions. Instead of explaining away the predictably poor outcomes, she suggests the need for critical appraisal of those driving the state-building agenda. (The article builds on ideas first contributed to Dialogue Series No 8)
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