Even where there are no functioning state structures, few societies remain ungoverned. Often non-state actors (NSAs) provide the goods, services and protections that the state may – for whatever reason – be unable to deliver to its citizens. NSAs include community-based and civil society groups, humanitarian and development organisations, armed actors and opposition groups, and the private sector and business interests, all working at various levels.
There is currently no coherent view in the development community about whether donors and practitioners should engage with such actors. However, the evidence suggests that truly inclusive political settlements will need to involve any NSAs able to exercise significant economic, political, or social influence on the development process, regardless of whether this influence is positive or negative.
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