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Learning to share: Explaining the conditions under which states delegate governance

International relations Local government Australia North America

This US paper investigates why and when weak states delegate selected governance functions to others -- and why a stronger state, such as Australia, would agree to take on the job.

A potential solution for weak or failing states is to enact a delegation agreement whereby a host relinquishes authority over some governance function to an external actor.  Through case studies in Melanesia, the author finds that these arrangements can be implemented as treaties, rather than contracts, so that the external actor remains somewhat exempt from the normal procedure or law of the host state.

The paper also explores an hypotheses about the conditions under which host states and external actors enact these self-enforcing equilibria: host states request these agreements either where a major law and order problem leads to a loss of monopoly on the use of force, or where extortion or corruption leads to budgetary crisis. External actors agree to them only under the latter circumstances since this makes the reputational and actual costs of the mission lower, as judged against alternative methods for resolving the problem, and where that state also poses a specific transnational security threat.

Image: Shipwreck, Vanuatu; Graham Crumb / Flickr

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