State Failure, Sovereignty and Effectiveness

Legal Lessons from the Decolonization of Sub-Saharan Africa


This comprehensive study of State failure upholds that the collapse of States in sub-Saharan Africa is a self-inflicted problem caused by the abandonment of the principle of effectiveness during decolonization. On the one hand, the abandonment of effectiveness may have facilitated the recognition of the new African States, but on the other it did lead to the creation of States that were essentially powerless: some of which became utter failures.
Written in a style both provocative and unorthodox and using convincing arguments, this study casts doubt on some of the most sacred principles of the modern doctrine of international law. It establishes that the declaratory theory of recognition cannot satisfactorily explain the continuing existence of failed States. It also demonstrates that the principled assertion of the right to self-determination as the basis for independence in Africa has turned the notion of sovereignty into a formal-legal figment without substance.
This book is a plea for more realism in international law. Pensive pessimists in the tradition of Hobbes will probably love it. Idealists in the tradition of Grotius may hate it, but they will find it very difficult to reject its conclusions.

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' Cette ouvrage, au riche contenu théorique appuyé sur des examples tirés des décolonisations africaines, conclut sur l'idée héritée de Hobbes qui fait primer l'ordre sur la justice au sein d'un ordre juridique décentralisé. Quelle que soit l'opinion du lecteur, il ne peut rester indifférent aux arguments du professeur Kreijen provoquant la réflexion sur l'effectivité, et, plus largement, sur la nécessité d'un certain réalisme dans le droit international.'
A.T.N., Extrait de l'Annuaire Francais de Droit Internationale, 2004.
' It is my view that this is not only a good book but an important book. ...[It] should be studied not only by those particularly interested in failed States and what to do about them but also by anyone wanting to understand more deeply the meaning and uses of [the] basic concepts of international law.'
From the Foreword by Sir Robert Y. Jennings, QC.
Foreword by Sir Robert Jennings,
1 Introduction,
2 On the State and State Failure,
1. Introduction,
2. The State in International law,
3. The Sociological and the Normative Conception of the State,
4. State Failure,
3 African Independence and the Transformation of Sovereignty,
1. Introduction,
2. Positive and Negative Sovereignty,
3. The Decline of Colonialism and the Expansion of International Society
4. The New Game of Negative Sovereignty,
5. Juridical Statehood outside the Colonial Context: Why Africa is not ‘Just Different’,
6. Final Observations,
4 The Abandonment of Effectiveness,
1. Introduction,
2. The Swing of the Pendulum,
3. Dissolving the Unity between Reality and Ideas,
4. Effectiveness and the Unity between Reality and Ideas,
5. Statehood, State Failure, and the Abandonment of Effectiveness,
5 Some Illustrations of the Consequences of Inherent Weakness,
1. Introduction
2. How Weak States Fail,
3. The Evasion of the Normative Character of International Law,
4. Some Additional Observations,
6 A Little Order,
1. Introduction,
2. Restoring the Unity between Reality and Ideas, 3. Reviving the UN Trusteeship System for Failed States,
4. Withdrawal of Recognition,
5. Self-Determination: The Final Hurdle,
7 Conclusions,
1. The Decolonization of Sub-Saharan Africa,
2. Recognition,
3. Sovereignty,
4. Effectiveness,
5. State Failure,
6. The General Perspective: Why Hobbes was Right, Index.