Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2009

Learning to Share: Explaining the Conditions under Which States Delegate Governance - Working Paper 181

Aila M. Matanock

September 2009

Center for Global Development


As part of CGD's work on weak and fragile states, Aila Matanock investigates why and when states delegate governance functions to others—and why and when the other entity agrees to take on the responsibilites. This look at shared sovereignty fills a void in the literature on weak and fragile states, a literature which tends to assume complete state control of governance or, alternatively, complete external control, as in cases on invasion or "neo-trusteeship." Delegation agreements are implemented by treaty and therefore fully respect the sovereignty of the struggling state. Analyzing such agreements in Melanesia, Matanock finds that governments often seek to delegate when faced with a budgetary crisis brought on from extortion or corruption; the other government agrees when it has sufficient concern, often on national or international security grounds, for the stability of the country—and when the costs of its involvement is sufficiently low. Violent crises borne of coups or civil strive, for instance, tend not to lead to delegation agreements since the costs for external involvement are too high. The evidence from Melanesia suggests that delegation agreements may be an effective tool to help weak and fragile states worldwide.