Weapons of the Weak State: Contracts and Consent in Post-Conflict Statebuilding



Susanna P. Campbell and Aila M. Matanock

Date and Time

June 18, 2020 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Virtual Seminar

* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.


Livestream: Please click here to join the livestream webinar via Zoom or log-in with webinar ID 924 4971 4330.


About the Event: International statebuilding aims to transform weak, conflict-affected states into stable modern states, grounded in rule of law, market economies, and liberal democracies (Barnett 2006, Mann 2012). International organizations (IOs) play a central role in this effort. By deploying country-level statebuilding missions in conflict-affected states, IOs aim to co-govern with the conflict-affected state for a defined period of time, helping to strengthen the capacity of the state to govern itself. International relations scholarship assumes that once IOs exercise, possess, and assert their authority to intervene on a country’s domestic territory they do not have to renegotiate this authority. We argue, in contrast, that most agreements between IOs and the host government are incomplete contracts that give weak states substantial authority over the intervening IO. We demonstrate that in a context of changing sovereignty norms, weak states have consistently used their authority to resist the influence of IOs and reduce the effectiveness of international statebuilding efforts. To test the observable implications of these claims, we employ a mixed method research design that integrates text-as-data analysis with in-depth case studies.


About the Speakers:


Susanna P. Campbell is an Assistant Professor at the School of International Service and Director of the Research on International Policy Implementation Lab (RIPIL) at American University. Her research examines the sub-national behavior of international actors in fragile and conflict-affected states, addressing debates in the statebuilding, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, international aid, and global governance literatures. She uses mixed-method research designs and has conducted extensive fieldwork in conflict-affected countries, including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, Sudan, South Sudan, and East Timor. She has received grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Network for International Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Swedish and Dutch governments, among others. In 2018, she won the School of International Service Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award and the Excellence in PhD Mentoring Award.

Prof. Campbell’s first book, Global Governance and Local Peace (Cambridge University Press, 2018), argues that because global governance actors are accountable to external stakeholders, seemingly “bad behavior” by country-based staff is necessary for local peacebuilding performance. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize and featured as one of the 2018 top picks for engaged scholarship by Political Violence @ a Glance. She is finishing a co-authored second book, Aid in Conflict, that explains the aid allocation behavior of international donors in war-torn countries. Her work has also been published by Columbia University Press, International Studies Review, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Global Security Studies, and Political Research Quarterly, among others. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the United Nations, International Crisis Group, and the Council on Foreign Relations and recently served as a senior advisor for the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, mandated by the US Congress. She received her PhD from Tufts University and was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and The Graduate Institute in Geneva.


Aila M. Matanock is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research addresses the ways in which international and other outside actors engage in fragile states. She uses case studies, survey experiments, and cross-national data in this work. She has conducted fieldwork in Colombia, Central America, Europe, Melanesia, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. She has received funding for these projects from many sources, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Minerva Research Initiative, the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism (START), and the Center for Global Development (CGD). Her 2017 book, Electing Peace: From Civil Conflict to Political Participation, was published by Cambridge University Press. It won the 2018 Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize and was a runner up for the 2018 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize. It is based on her dissertation research at Stanford University, which won the 2013 Helen Dwight Reid award from the American Political Science Association. Her work has also been published by the Annual Review of Political Science, Governance, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, and elsewhere. She worked at the RAND Corporation before graduate school, and, since then, she has held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at UCSD. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and her A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University.