Agenda for Peace
In 1992 Boutros Boutros Gali launched his widely known Agenda for Peace. This coincided with the beginning of a change in the United Nations tending to widen its scope of action to confront the internal conflicts that multiplied in the world after the end of the “bi-polar order”. In his Agenda, the United Nations Secretary General pointed out that the cohesion of states was being brutally threatened by ethnic, religious, social, cultural or linguistic disputes. As an answer he stated the need for preventive diplomacy to “avoid that the existing disputes escalate into conflicts and in case these take place, limit their expansion”. And he added that preventive diplomacy could only be built if there is a “recognized web of early alarm systems.” As an answer to this request by the United Nations, several working groups began to come up with a series of dependable indicators to detect when a state is at eminent risk of collapsing. The idea was to build “early alarm” warning systems to transfer international community resources to impede these disastrous episodes of state collapse.
The most important groups working in this sense, were: the Conflict Early Warning Systems (CEWS) an investigative project sponsored by the International Council of Social Sciences (ISSC); two non-governmental agencies located in London: International Alert and The Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER). Additionally, in 1994 the then U. S. Vice President Al Gore, constituted a working group with the same perspective, called the “State Failure Project”.
Baker and Ausink (1996), for example, detected nine common traits in three nations (Somalia, Sierra Leona and Sudan) in which the state was on the brink of collapse or totally collapsed: a strong demographic pressure, a massive refugee movement, economic growth linked to ethnic division, a long tradition of vengeance and repression, a profound de-legitimization of the state, severe economic crisis, progressive deterioration or elimination of public services, manifest incapacity to implement legal norms, and different freelance security operatives acting as "states within the state".
This is an excerpt from Pauline Baker and John Ausink's “State Collapse and Ethnic Violence: Toward a predictive model”, Parameters US Army War College Quarterly, V. XXVI.