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Project August 11, 2009

DRC: Fragile States - Halting the Slide Toward Failure


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This project was produced in partnership with the Bureau for International Reporting.

How can the world's largest United Nations Peacekeeping force protect civilians when it must partner with a national army that is almost as predatory on the local population as the rebels they are meant to fight against? Spend a day with UN Congo chief Alan Doss as he travels the eastern part of this massive country, trying to shore up a mission facing huge challenges.

Making peace is often thought to be the hardest part of dealing with the world's failing states. But while ending conflict is undoubtedly challenging, nation-building is often more difficult still. And then there are the countries that aren't failing but aren't succeeding, either: a so-called middle tier of "fragile states" that straddle a thin line of survival vs. returning to conflict or other social, environmental or economic distress. The Pulitzer Center's Fragile States project, in collaboration with the Bureau for International Reporting, offers a series of stories filmed in four of the world's most at-risk nations—nations that rarely make the headlines but that offer clear lessons for what it takes to stabilize a country emerging from trauma.

In East Timor: 10 years after it voted for independence from Indonesia, this tiny new nation struggles to build itself up from scratch. What does it take to create a functioning army and police force or write national laws when four different languages are commonly spoken? How to combat an unemployment rate of 40%, or manage a promising but perhaps overwhelming natural resources wealth?

In Bosnia: Rising nationalism is stoking ethnic and political tensions, threatening to undermine the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the bloodshed there in 1995. What are the political, societal and economic stresses behind the instability? Could Bosnia return to violent conflict?

In Haiti: The recipient of billions of dollars in foreign aid and repeated interventions by the international community, Haiti may be on the verge at last of stability—or else at the cusp of even deeper misery. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has recently appointed President Bill Clinton as a special envoy to the nation, to help sieze what he describes as "Haiti's big chance."



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Peace Initiatives

Peace Initiatives