State Failure and the Privatisation of War

By:
Dr Julien Barbara,
Dr Lucas Walsh
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This paper explores the ways by which the changing nature of contemporary war, in particular its privatisation, and how this challenges conventional understandings of the politics of war and the possibilities for a just international order. The authors argue that the changing nature of contemporary war requires a re-assessment of the role of Western States in its conduct and, consequently, the political context in which it is waged. Central to this change has been the rise of private military firms and the emergence of globalised, non-state war markets. This paper examines the changing nature of war from a perspective of Western State culpability and accountability. The authors explore how notions of culpability are central to the contemporary perception of Western engagement with war. While on one level trends such as privatisation and outsourcing appear to absolve Western States of culpability, privatised war continues on another level to be deeply embedded in state structures. As war is outsourced to private actors, Western state culpability needs to be reconsidered from a governance perspective.
A central issue of this paper is the question of whether the private sector reinforces or weakens “the State”. The authors contend that war continues to be a State-based activity but is waged on the basis of a new governance model. This discussion explores this model and its implications. The paper concludes by outlining how the dynamics of privatised war give rise to important issues of global and state-based governance, accountability and responsibility. It is argued that the privatisation of war is changing the formal governance or rules of war consistent with the ideological paradigms underpinning market globalisation, with profound consequences for the politics of war and the construction of a just cosmopolitan global order.


Keywords: Privatisation of War, the State, State-Building, Governance, International Relations, Public Administration
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Julien Barbara

Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts, Deakin University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr Barbara is a Research Fellow at Deakin University’s Citizenship and Globalisation Research Priority Area. His current research interests include the privatisation of war, the role of the private sector in peacebuilding and development, shadow globalisation and processes of state failure and state formation. Dr Barbara has worked previously as an Australian diplomat posted to the European Union and for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade where he worked on East Timor and Pacific Island issues.

Dr Lucas Walsh

Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts, Deakin University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr Walsh is currently involved in research across three areas: e-learning; cultural diversity in education; and the impact of digital media on civil society and new forms of governance. Dr Walsh was an active member of the Education Family-Taskforce on Education, Academia and Research within the framework of the Civil Society contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) organized by the United Nations. A recurrent theme of his research has been the theoretical and applied issues arising from the complex nexus of technology, education, culture, citizenship and governance in contemporary society.

Ref: H06P0614