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Securing Uncertainty: Sub-state Security Dilemma and the Risk of Intervention

Title data

Kühn, Florian P.:
Securing Uncertainty: Sub-state Security Dilemma and the Risk of Intervention.
In: International Relations. Vol. 25 (2011) Issue 3 . - pp. 363-380.
ISSN 1741-2862

Abstract in another language

The theoretical concept John Herz called a ‘security dilemma’ has rarely been applied to sub-state social figurations, although security dilemmas do shape political behaviour in post-conflict peacebuilding. Comparable to state formation, sub-state groups develop institutional capacities. Often led by ‘warlords’ or ‘strongmen’, these entities resemble states within, while lacking recognition and legitimacy from without. Between these entities arises a sub-sovereign form of security dilemma. It is a result of uncertainty about the other’s motives regarding expansion, control of sources of funding, or domination within the legal order of the ‘state’. When statebuilding is pursued by external actors, aiming to fill the legal void, the ‘state’ can become a source of existential risks for sub-state entities. Risks – from extinction to the transformation of a group’s socio-political identity – can stem from another sub-state group taking over the state, appropriating superior means of coercion and hence enabling itself to subjugate others; relative deprivation concerning external funding or revenue from trade or smuggling; or loss of investment in networks of patronage, favourable terms of trade, or monopolies for certain goods. External support adds considerable uncertainty about interventionists’ capabilities, willingness and ability to steer and control statebuilding efforts. This article explores how risks and their perception shape interaction between social actors and at the same time how awareness and consideration of these risks may influence external actors’ behaviour. It argues that understanding risk constellations within an intervention and their processual transformation is vital for external statebuilding support.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Sociology of Africa
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Sociology of Africa > Chair Sociology of Africa - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences
300 Social sciences > 300 Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2023 08:36
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2023 08:36