Fragile states are those characterised by problems of weak governance or of conflict, internal or cross-border. They are also described, less crisply but more carefully, as countries in fragile and conflict-affected situations – hence the acronym used in this paper, FCA countries.
For about a decade the demands of providing international assistance to FCA countries have received explicit and increasing attention, both from aid organisations and from a range of others. These two kinds of literature, with their different perspectives, are what this paper describes. It also comments on how far Australia has a distinctive approach in its aid to FCA countries.