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The absence of effective government, one of the most important issues in current international law, became prominent with the“failed state” concept at the beginning of the 1990s. Public international law, however, lacked sufficient legal means to deal with the phenomenon. Neither attempts at state reconstruction in countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia on the legal basis of Chapter VII of the UN Charter nor economic liberalisation have addressed fundamental social and economic problems. This work investigates the weaknesses of the “failed state” paradigm as a long-term solution for international peace and security, arguing that the solution to the absence of effective government can be found only in an economic and social approach and a true universalisation of international law.