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Edited by Peter Burnell, Vicky Randall, and Lise Rakner

Politics in the Developing World provides an introduction to politics in the developing world. This fifth edition has been updated to address topical issues and themes, including refugee movements; the rise of the so-called Islamic State; organized crime; gender; the role of new forms of communication in political mobilization; and the replacement of Millennium Development Goals by Sustainable Development Goals. The first four sections of the volume explore the theoretical approaches, the changing nature and role of the state, and the major policy issues that confront all developing countries. The final sections set out a diverse range of country case studies, representing all the main geographical regions.


22. Iraq  

A Failing State?

Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt

This chapter examines whether Iraq is a failed state and how it drew such characterization. It focuses on the period since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. The chapter considers three areas: the reconstruction of Iraq’s political institutions; post-invasion violence and security; and human and economic development. It shows how the failure to reconstruct political institutions capable of reconciling Iraq’s different political groupings has weakened central government, exacerbated corruption within state institutions, and contributed to ethnic/sectarian violence, thereby creating a favourable environment for the emergence of the Islamic State. The chapter argues that the Iraqi state is failing to provide necessary services and infrastructure for economic and human development and even basic security for much of the population.


Jeff Haynes

This chapter explores the relationship between religion and politics. It first defines the concept of religion before discussing its contemporary political and social salience in many developing countries. It then considers how religion interacts with politics and with the state in the developing world, as well as how religion is involved in democratization in the developing world by focusing on the Arab Spring and its aftermath. It also examines the differing impacts of the so-called Islamic State and Pope Francis on the relationship between religion and politics in the developing world. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the role of religion in international politics after 9/11.


Michael Freeman

This chapter examines the concept of human rights, which derives primarily from the Charter of the United Nations adopted in 1945 immediately after World War II. It first provides a brief account of the history of the concept of human rights before describing the international human rights regime. It then considers two persistent problems that arise in applying the concept of human rights to the developing world: the relations between the claim that the concept is universally valid and the realities of cultural diversity around the world; and the relations between human rights and development. In particular, it explores cultural imperialism and cultural relativism, the human rights implications of the rise of political Islam and the so-called war on terror(ism), and globalization. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the new political economy of human rights.


Astri Suhrke, Torunn Wimpelmann, and Ingrid Samset

This chapter analyses patterns of violent conflict in the developing world since the onset of decolonization. It examines shifts in how scholars and policymakers have understood such conflicts, and how these understandings have informed dynamics of foreign interventions and the international peace-building regime that developed in the 1990s. After providing an overview of decolonization and its aftermath, the chapter considers conflicts over social order during the Cold War as well as the nature of conflicts in the post-Cold-War period. It also discusses new forces that shaped conflict during the first decades of the twenty-first century, focusing on militant Islam and the ‘war on terror’, ‘people power’ and its aftermath, and the link between peace-building and military intervention in a multipolar world.