‘Unsharing’ Sovereignty: g7+ and the Politics of International Statebuilding

‘Unsharing’ Sovereignty: g7+ and the Politics of International Statebuilding


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Policy points:

  • Fragile states in the Global South are taking a much more active role in development, peace- and statebuilding partnerships. The g7+ group acts as a catalyst in this regard.
  • This active role is enabled – and at the same time contributes to – a ‘global marketplace of political change’ (Carothers/Samet-Marram). An increasing variety of partnership opportunities provides states in the Global South with the means to flexibly accept or reject international support. The carrot & stick policies that enabled Global Governance since the end of the Cold War may have reached their historical end-point.
  • This active role rests on a post-liberal claim of sovereignty, which effectively replaces the ideas of ‘shared’ or ‘earned’ sovereignty concepts as present in liberal interventionism or institutions of global governance, such as R2P or international criminal law. State authority becomes re-established in the Global South.
  • International actors have to adapt to the condition of fluid multipolarity when pursuing development, state- or peacebuilding agendas. This means that their initiatives may not necessarily welcomed by partners, and that there are no disposable means to still pursue them.

Abstract: In order to work, international peace – and statebuilding has had to reshape the traditional notion of state sovereignty and legitimize increasingly interventionist endeavours in terms of an attenuated ‘shared’ sovereignty. Over the last decade, however, governments in recipient states have pushed back, demanding a more active role in negotiating with their OECD counterparts. The g7+ group, an international organization of now 20 self-proclaimed fragile states, has evolved as a key actor from the global South dealing with international peace – and statebuilding. The group’s approach to multilateral negotiations on development goals, and its creative use of donor concepts and approaches such as resilience, ownerships and measuring development progress, challenge the customary peace – and statebuilding practices. This challenge demonstrates that political elites in fragile states have started to self-confidentially occupy the arenas of statebuilding and development. This article argues that in so-doing the g7+ group establishes a post-liberal sovereignty claim that is based on two pillars: resilient nationhood, and selectivity in the application of global liberal principles. Since it relies on the development policy principle of national ownership, such post-liberal sovereignty is difficult to counter for actors subscribed to liberal norms. Effectively, sovereignty is ‘unshared’ again.

Keywords: Statebuilding; Sovereignty; International Organization; Fragility; g7+

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