International development interventions are increasingly partnering with non-state actors who deliver public goods or services. This trend reflects donors and policy-makers’ realization that state fragility is not easily overcome.
In situations where multiple actors provide governance – a scenario referred to as ‘hybrid governance’ – the new imperative is to work, empower and partly formalize non-state governance actors. Yet the endorsement of informal leaders and organizations, community-based security and other types of non-state governance actors raises numerous questions. Is it simply a pragmatic way of furthering bottom-up governance in the absence of functioning state institutions? Does it legitimize private actors and interests that lack accountability and ultimately undermine state-building.
This seminar debates these and other questions based on examples from the field (Somalia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo) as well as more policy-oriented and conceptual considerations. We invite practitioners, consultants and researchers to join us for a critical reflection on the potentials and pitfalls of working with non-state governance actors in the global South.