Skip to main content

Emerging Powers and Effective Governance in Fragile States

New and emerging development organizations are providing assistance to countries experiencing tensions and challenges after periods of conflict. This research will test whether their development assistance approaches are more effective at addressing the political and social realities of fragile states than those used by traditional donors. Recent evidence points to greater numbers of emerging powers engaging in fragile states. Their motives vary by country and over time. Emerging economies argue that their approach to development and security is different because they have experienced similar challenges in their recent past. Their national experiences provide them with more relevant insights into the obstacles affecting other developing countries, especially in institution building. They argue that their approach to local ownership, which is sensitive to sovereignty and partnership, is distinct from conventional donor-recipient relationships. Response to these emerging actors has been mixed. Governments look to these donors for development grants that, they argue, are not accompanied by restrictive conditions. On the other hand, citizens of these countries have misgivings about the effects of emerging powers on their day-to-day livelihoods. The presence of China in Africa, for example, has led to demonstrations in some African countries such as Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Kenya. Three prepositions will guide this project: -There may be unavoidable tensions between confidence building, legitimacy, and institution building in fragile states, especially in the early stabilization and post-conflict period. -Tensions can be managed by international efforts that understand the reality of trade-offs and that use a political settlement approach to build or reform institutions. -Emerging powers' experiences can be a source of valuable knowledge about analyzing political settlements and designing interventions to build security and justice institutions. The project team will examine South Africa's involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Turkey's role in Somalia, particularly in the areas of security and justice. Researchers will study how development actors working in fragile situations can help enhance legitimacy, support stable and effective political settlements, and build confidence across parties in states. They will also examine local perceptions about the new approaches and how their impact on daily life. The study will select a sample of traditional donors that are heavily engaged in these countries to compare with the engagement of emerging powers. The project will provide a better understanding of effective approaches. It will also generate new knowledge on whether assumptions made about the effectiveness of these approaches are valid. Findings will be shared with traditional and emerging donors to help them develop more effective and context-specific donor programs, and with national and regional policymakers, and civil society organizations.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 500,000.00
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Governance and Justice
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Neissan Besharati
The South African Institute of International Affairs