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In attempting to rebuild post-conflict failed states, the international community has drawn heavily on neo-liberal development paradigms. However, neo-liberal state building has proved ineffectual in stimulating economic development in post-conflict states, thus undermining prospects for state consolidation. This article offers the developmental state as an alternative model for international state building, better suited to overcoming the developmental challenges that face post-conflict states. Drawing on the East Asian experience, developmental state building would seek to build state capacity to intervene in the economy to guide development, compensating for the failure of growth led by the private sector to materialise in many post-conflict states. The article concludes that such an approach would, in the first instance, require the international community to accept more honestly its developmental responsibilities when it decides to intervene to rebuild failed states.

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