Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

The Resilience of the State: Democracy and the Challenges of Globalization

Samy Cohen, translated by Jonathan Derrick
The Resilience of the State: Democracy and the Challenges of Globalization
ISBN: 978-1-58826-420-6
2006/198 pages/LC: 2005035218

"An important contribution to the theoretical literature on transnationalism and the debate on the status of the state."—Choice

"An important treatise.... Well written, forcefully argued, and compelling in its analysis.... This is the book to read to learn about NGO deficiencies, the unwieldy meanings of global civil society, and the sheer multiplicity of nonstate actors. Furthermore, it provides a corrective to those studies that exaggerate NGO influence."—Paul Wapner, International Studies Review

"A simple but brilliant work."—Jean-Jacques Roche, University of Paris II

"Coherently argued, well structured, provocative, and makes a real contribution to current debates in international relations."—Clarie Heristchi, University of Aberdeen


In this politically incorrect essay, Samy Cohen, one of France's leading specialists in international relations, attacks an established sacred cow: the theory of state decline.

According to the conventional wisdom, states are on the wane under the impact of globalization, and frontiers are being gradually abolished; the outcome could be at worst an anarchic world, at best an international civil society whose powers exceed those of established political authority.

But Cohen demonstrates that the world is not like this at all that what he ironically calls the "transnational-state-decline" theory is a fashionable fable at university seminars, but does not correspond with reality. A good illustration of this, he argues, are NGOs, few of which are in fact independent of states, and even fewer capable of free expression.

The state, Cohen contends, is fighting back, for good or for ill. It retains its freedom of maneuver and it is successfully resisting pressure to make it more virtuous, more transparent, and more willing to share responsibility.


The author of six books and numerous articles, Samy Cohen is research director of the Center for the Study of International Relations (CERI) in Paris.


  • Introduction: The Third Chessboard.
  • Inequality Among States.
  • A (Nearly) Perfect World: The NGO Jungle.
  • NGO Influence, State Resilience.
  • The International Criminal Court: Justice Without a Sword.
  • "Without Borders": Humanitarians' Shattered Dream.
  • Sustainable Development: Promising as Little as Possible.
  • The End of Myths. "Transnational Violence": A Challenge to States.
  • Multinationals: Captors and Captives.
  • Conclusion: Too Much State Sovereignty.
No rights in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and South Asia