The balance of power between strong states was for decades the dominant issue in discussions of international security. But today, it is fragile states that are seen by many as posing potentially greater threats. Weak infrastructures, internal conflict, and lack of economic development provide fertile ground for trafficking, piracy, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disease pandemics, regional tensions, and even genocide.

As a result, there is a growing movement in the international community to find comprehensive ways to promote stronger states, as well as more effective solutions to deal with those that are already on the brink of failure.

In Governance, you'll find reporting from around the world—from East Timor to Haiti, from Guinea Bissau to Afghanistan. The reporting demonstrates the dangers weak states pose—and also the international interventions that appear to be making a difference.



Yemen's House of Peace

Tribal violence claims hundreds of lives every year in Yemen. The House of Peace encourages non-violent solutions to land disputes and 'love' crimes – violations of marriage arrangements that offend Yemen's conservative social code.

It's dangerous work. House of Peace members have died during mediation efforts, attempting to diffuse armed stand-offs.

But Sheikh AbdulRahman al-Marwani, the organization's director, also attends lengthy discussion forums with rival groups and arranges theatre workshops to spread the message of reconciliation.

Yemen: Facing forwards

Yemen's civil society is still in an early growth phase but non-profits and pressure groups will play an important role in strengthening democratic institutions for the future.

I wrote last Friday about the need for a new trust to support girls who escape from early, unwanted marriages.

But I recently spent the morning at an incubator organization, the Youth Leadership Development Foundation, which is training the next generation of managers and administrators who will help the civil society sector to grow.

Yemen: A cry for help

Twelve-year-old Reem has done so many interviews with journalists, she's lost count. "She's like Nancy Ajram now," her mother joked - referring to a famous Lebanese singer.

I visited Reem in her mum's Sana'a appartment for my Christian Science Monitor story on child brides. Reem's parents are separated. Since the start of her summer vacation in June, Reem has been kidnapped by her father, married, repeatedly raped by a man twice her age, rescued by police and reunited with her mother - but she is still waiting for a judge to annul her wedding contract.

Yemen: On the road

"You're much more likely to die in a traffic accident than get caught up in a terrorist attack," said a friend, who works here as a private security consultant.

If you've ever found your taxi driver hurtling the wrong way down a dual carriageway or seen little boys behind the wheel of their dad's car struggling to see over the dashboard, you'll know you're on the road in Yemen.

A recent article in the Yemen Times reported 43 deaths and 396 injuries in traffic accidents in a single week.