Failing and failed states are a threat to their citizens and to the international community, creating a need for international intervention. The oft-advocated model of early intervention to restore human security in states at risk cannot be implemented except in rare cases, because it requires large resources. In addressing failing states, the international community should concentrate first and foremost on the narrower and more achievable task of restoring state security. But it should also accept that in some cases the restructuring of the state may be the only way of
restoring human security.

About the Authors
Marina Ottaway is a Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She works on problems of democratization and post-conflict transitions.

Stefan Mair is deputy director of SWP German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He works on sub-Saharan Africa non-state actors in international affairs and on state failure.