Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

David A. Rezvani


In the twenty-first century, the balance of power between states is no longer the only source of global insecurity, but is joined by non-state threats that lurk behind a curtain of de jure sovereignty in failed states. Diseases, piracy, terrorists, criminal cartels, and rapacious corporations all take advantage of the poverty and lack of institutional capacity endemic to failed states. The resulting instability spreads across entire regions, affecting the global core and periphery states alike. It is therefore the security threat posed by failed states that necessitates state-building. This paper examines the evolution of state sovereignty and the role identity plays in state formation. The central thrust of my thesis is that state-building must aim at incorporating group identities into the state-building dialogue if the resulting institutions are to have legitimacy. This will involve a reappraisal of the political structure that state-building seeks to achieve. Unitary and federal regimes do not resolve the most violent ethno-territorial struggles. The worst cases of inter-ethnic violence cannot be solved through nationalism or pluralism, but must instead attempt to give divergent identities a voice in their future. Therefore, I argue that state-builders should look to federacy and partition as structural solutions to state-building in failed states.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.