Failed Approaches to Failed States - Somalia and the Union of Islamic Courts

Lars Hededam, Helene Van Der Aa Kühle & Signe Hare Olsen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Post 9/11 there has been an increased focus on failed states, due to the perceived security threat they are posing to the world order. In spite of this increased focus, little attention has been brought to the question of what happens domestically after the state has failed. In this project this question will be addressed. Somalia is considered an archetypical example of a failed state, yet still it does not fit the common failed state description of a ‘black hole’ of anarchic chaos. In the absence of the state, new governance structures have emerged, most prominently the Union of Islamic Courts. Throughout the second half of 2006 they managed to provide a number of public goods, most notably, a collection of revenues, rule of law and a notable level of security in society that had not been exceeded since before the collapse of the Barre-regime in 1991. Nevertheless, this aspiring new governance structure was not perceived as legitimate by the international society. Therefore, Ethiopia backed by the US intervened in late December 2006, thus effectively putting the governance by the UIC to an end. It is argued that the failed state approaches deriving from the western notion of the Westphalian state are, essentially, building on the assumption of the state as an eternally given entity. The failed state is considered an end-stage from where the only solution is to return to 'statehood' - something that was never fully consolidated in a Somali context. It is suggested, that the failed state should rather be understood as a step in the process of defining the legitimate authority, that fits the current context and reality where it is to operate.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato26 maj 2010
VejlederePreben Kaarsholm


  • Union of Islamic Courts
  • 2006
  • Islam
  • IUC
  • Somalia
  • Failed state
  • Collapsed state
  • Governance
  • UIC
  • Fragile state