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Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority

I. William Zartman, editor
ISBN: 978-1-55587-560-2
1995/304 pages/LC: 94-25734
SAIS African Studies Library

"The 16 contributors, both scholars and policy-makers, illuminate why states collapse, how they disintegrate (stages and ultimate signs) and how they may be reconstituted. The large number and richness of the case-studies shed light on a phenomenon which has become a significant feature of the post-Cold War world."—Cecilia Albin, International Affairs

"Excellent .... In addition to the editor's perceptive summing up of problems and solutions in the introduction and conclusion, the 11 case studies offer descriptive and analytic accounts of the causes of collapse as well as the conditions necessary for state construction .... This book serves many purposes, particularly for Africanists in need of a good textbook."—Choice

"This excellent volume of essays ... on the collapse and restoration of African states ... also provides a useful starting point for the study of the democratization process."—Choice

"Of considerable interest to Africanists and others interested in recent trends in the political economy of North-South relations.... Zartman's collection offers a valuable analysis of a particular North-South relationship.... provides an excellent sense of the challenges the "sea changes" of recent years have presented both for the less-developed world and for scholars seeking to understand it."—The Journal of Politics


The collapse of states—a phenomenon that goes far beyond rebellion or the change of regimes to involve the literal implosion of structures of authority and legitimacy—has until now received little scholarly attention, despite the fact that a number of states have actually ceased to exist as entities in the aftermath of the collapse of the dominant international system.

The authors of this book address the problem by comparatively examining eleven African cases. In each case, they consider what caused the state to collapse, what the symptoms and early warning signs were, and how the situation was or can be dealt with. They also assess more generally the potential strengths and weaknesses of various responses (e.g. democratization, "strongmen," UN action, foreign intervention) to impending state collapse.


I. William Zartman is Jacob Blaustein Professor of International Organization and Conflict Resolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. His numerous publications on Africa include Government and Politics in North Africa, International Relations in the New Africa and Africa in the 1980s.


  • Introduction—I.W. Zartman.
  • States Collapsed and Reconstructed.
  • Reconstructing the State of Chad—W.J. Foltz.
  • State Collapse and Reconstruction in Uganda—G.M. Khadiagala.
  • Rawlings and the Engineering of Legitimacy in Ghana—D. Rothchild.
  • Current Collapse and Future Restoration.
  • Somalia: A Terrible Beauty Being Born?—H.M. Adam.
  • Liberia: Putting the State Back Together—M. Lowenkopf.
  • The Heritage of Revolution and the Struggle for Governmental Legitimacy in Mozambique—B. Schutz.
  • Remaking the Ethiopian State—E. Keller.
  • States in Danger.
  • The Collapse of the Socialist State: Angola and the Soviet Union—L.L. Fituni.
  • Zaire: Collapsed Society, Surviving State, Future Polity—H. Weiss.
  • Algeria: Reinstating the State or Instating a Civil Society?—A. Layachi.
  • South Africa: State Transition and the Management of Collapse—S. Shezi.
  • Potential Agents of Reconstruction.
  • State Collapse: The Humanitarian Challenge to the UN—F.M. Deng.
  • The Role of Foreign Intervention in African Reconstruction—I.A. Gambari.
  • Democratization in Collapsed States—M. Ottaway.
  • Strongmen, State Formation, Collapse, and Reconstruction in Africa—N. Ng'ethe.
  • Conclusions.
  • Putting Things Back Together—I.W. Zartman.