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Managing risk within international society: hierarchical governance in the Asia-Pacific

Clapton, W. (2009) Managing risk within international society: hierarchical governance in the Asia-Pacific. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 63 (3). pp. 416-429.

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Several recent works have emphasised new relations of hierarchy within international society, primarily involving the claim by certain Western states of the authority to intervene in particular territories in order to build state capacity and the institutions of sound liberal democratic governance. While several scholars have identified these new hierarchies, few have provided a satisfactory account of what informs their formation and reproduction. This article investigates why new hierarchies have emerged within international society, arguing that they are underpinned by a 'liberal social logic of risk', which simultaneously constructs liberal democracies as inherently peaceful and prosperous and non-liberal or weak states as inherently risky and dangerous. Confronted by new forms of debounded security risks, Western societies have sought to manage these risks via interventions in identified 'risky zones' aimed at building liberal political and economic institutions. This argument is illustrated by the example of Australia's new interventionist development agenda in the Asia-Pacific, notably its leading role in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). This interventionist agenda is, in effect, a new mechanism of regional risk management that informs new modes of hierarchical governance in the Asia-Pacific.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © 2009 Australian Institute of International Affairs.
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