Some borders are « fragile »; they are crossed, occupied or even partially governed by non-State armed groups, without impacting states’ sovereignty on the rest of the national territory or at other border points. This fragility may take several forms, from the abandonment of the border by all State apparatuses, to the constraints imposed by populations on civil servants for the latter to negotiate their presence at the border, or a form of border governance within which all civilian State administrations are under a national or international military authority. Despite their fragility, these borders continue to fulfill their role as political, economic and symbolic resources. Even if the modalities of circulation change, legal and illegal commodities still cross the borders, in a more or less formal way. Violence at borders is paradoxical, it creates a crisis but should not block flows, in particular trade flows. If it becomes an impediment, violence at borders may generate an economic desert, in the borderlands and beyond and consequently weaken the political credibility of the armed groups who claim to govern, which includes an ability to ensure the security of the cross-border flows and exchanges.
The major question raised by governments, the military and civil servants is « how to restore the authority of the State » at the border. Any attempt to reply to this legitimate question should rely on two preliminary observations. Firstly, at these borders, the State has lost its centrality as an actor, if not as an idea. Secondly, security or stability is not a project that exclusively belongs to the State; it cannot, therefore, legitimate, in itself, the restoration of the authority of the State. This journal issue on fragile borders calls experts, researchers and artists to conceive of a two-fold approach, conceptual and practical: thinking of borders and security in extreme field situations primarily without the State, in a policy and research area where political and technical responses usually rely on a premise that is rarely, if ever, discussed: the “natural” presence of the State at borders.
The question of security at borders has already been abundantly treated; therefore, submissions are expected to be as original and unique as possible. Submissions from artists, experts and researchers will be warmly welcomed, as well as submissions that go beyond contemporary situations.
Format of the submissions
Submissions are limited to 6000 words. They will be accompanied by an iconography (photos, videos, graphs, maps, pictures, …) proposing a dialogue with the text for their publication on the journal website (see the first issue of the journal).
Mourad Arfaoui (World Customs Organization, Carthage University Center for Economics and Applied Finance), Thomas Cantens (World Customs Organization, Auvergne University School of Economics), Gaël Raballand (World Bank, Choiseul Institute)
Photograph © Eduardo Soteras, 2010.
1. Sending of proposals, 1 November 2016
Proposals should be sent in English or French. They should include 1000 words of text (Word format) and some iconographic elements (PDF format). They should be sent by email to the coordinators thomas.cantens [AT] wcoomd.org
2. Selection of contributions, 20 November 2016
3. Sending of the full papers, 1 March 2017
The full papers (6000 words maximum) should be sent to thomas.cantens [AT] wcoomd.org
4. Publication of the French version, October 2017
5. Publication of the English version, December 2017