Civil Society and State Fragility in Angola

Salma Essam El Refaei


State fragility is becoming increasingly alarming as an epidemic in our world today. It breeds crippling crises and can have irrevocable effects. According to Robert I. Rotberg, fragile states are hubs for both: local and international crimes, human and drug trafficking, terror and human rights violations amongst other problems acting as a social menace to the globe (Rotberg, 2003, p.6). One of the main reasons why fragile states are alarming is that the problems they bring about are rarely contained. They automatically overspill due to the complexity of some of the problems as well as the interdependence of the world’s structure becoming an international issue and concern rather than a regional one. This paper starts with the premise that one of the possible solutions to state fragility is development from within which is achieved partly through civil society and states’ self-help. It tries to establish first and very briefly the relationship between civil society and state fragility and the definitions used in this paper. Then, it tries to determine what civil society could do to reconstruct fragile states in general. Finally, it applies parts of the latter to Angola examining the successes and failures of its civil society focusing only on NGOs. Through this methodology, it tries to answer the question “To what extent is Civil Society successful in reconstructing/rebuilding Angola as a Fragile State?”. This topic is significant because as mentioned above state fragility is on the rise and it is hard to control. Once a country spirals down the fragility index, sometimes the damage is permanent and its threats are imminent. The paper argues that although Angolan civil society is rather weakened and limited by the state and international organizations, there are opportunities for increasing effectiveness. It might not be significantly successful today however, with all limitations considered, it is bringing about small positive changes that will impact the future of Democracy in Angola in the long run.


Civil Society, NGOs, Development, State Fragility, Ethnic Conflict, Democracy

Full Text:



AbdelRahman, M. (2004). NGOs in the Contemporary World Order. In Civil Society Exposed: The Politics of NGOs in Egypt. (pp. 40-73). I.B.Tauris.

Affolter, F. W., & Cabula, H. F. (2010). Stregthening "Reflective Practice" Within Angolan Civil Society Organizations. International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 21(2), 271-292. Retrieved April, 2016, from

Amundsen, I., & Abreu, C. (2006). Civil Society in Angola: Inroads, Space and Accountability (pp. 1-65, Rep. No. 14). Bergen, Norway: Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Chatham House (2005). Angola: Drivers of change. London: Chatham House.

Dowst, M. (2009). Working with Civil Society in Fragile States (Working paper No. 23). International NGOs Training and Research Centre.

Engaging Civil Society Organizations in Conflict-Affected and Fragile States: Three African Country Case Studies (pp. 1-56, Rep. No. 32538). (2005). Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

Kibble, S., & Vines, A. (2001). Angola: New Hopes for Civil Society? Review of African Political Economy, 28:90, 537-548. doi:10.1080/03056240108704564

Posner, D. N. (2004). Civil Society and the Reconstruction of Failed States. In When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (pp. 237-255). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Robert I. Rotberg, “Failed States, Collapsed States, Weak States: Causes and Indicators”, in: Robert I. Rotberg ed. State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror (2003)

Rocha, J. (2002). The costs of the conflict in Angola. South African Journal of International Affairs, 9(2), 1-16. doi:10.1080/10220460209545387

Santos, Guilherme. "Angola: The Role Civil Society Can Play in the Aftermath of Conflict." South African Journal of International Affairs 9.2 (2002): 43-51. Web.

Uvin, P., & Cohen, S. (2006). “What Really Works In Preventing and Rebuilding Failed States. (pp. 1-15, Working paper). Woodrow Wilson International Centres for Scholars

Vines, A., & Weimer, M. (2011). Angola: Assessing Risks to Stability (pp. 1-30, Rep.). Washington: Center for Strategic and International Studies.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.