nation Building

Nation-building refers to the process of constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people or peoples within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. Nation-building can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth.

Nation-building is a normative concept that means different things to different people. The latest conceptualization is essentially that nation-building programs are those in which dysfunctional or unstable or "failed states" or economies are given assistance in the development of governmental infrastructure, civil society, dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as economic assistance, in order to increase stability. Nation-building generally assumes that someone or something is doing the building intentionally.

Why does nation-building matter?

Nation-building matters to intractable conflict because of the theory that a strong state is necessary in order to provide security, that the building of an integrated national community is important in the building of a state, and that there may be social and economic prerequisites or co-requisites to the building of an integrated national community.

Further, when nation-building implies democratization, there is the further hypothesis known as the democratic peace hypothesis. Originally explicated by Immanuel Kant in the 17th century, the democratic peace hypothesis says that perpetual peace can be achieved by developing a federation or league of free republican nations. Representative democracies, organized in an international organization, would bring peace. Political scientists who have explored this hypothesis have focused on one of two versions: democracies don't make war against each other, or democracies don't initiate war at all. There is certainly evidence of the former, and some evidence of the latter.

The other side of the coin is that nation-building may sometimes be simply another name for external intervention and the extension of empires. If it can be said that failed states are the cause of national, regional, or world security problems, or that human rights abuses are so extensive that the need to overcome them in turn overcomes the traditional sovereignty rights of states under international law, then intervention in the name of nation-building can be seen to be justified. Sometimes nation-building may simply be used as a justification for the expansion of imperial control. So nation-building matters, but what is meant by nation-building matters even more.