The demise of the intervention paradigm: resilience thinking in the Merida Initiative

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Post-Cold War interventions have gone through a series of distinct paradigms—each allowing for its own oppositional discourse. This possibility seems to be diminishing with the rise of resilience thinking. In the early 1990s, liberal internationalist framings drove intervention by prioritising individual human rights over state rights to non-interference. Here, it was possible to oppose intervention as illegal boundary violation and unaccountable foreign rule. Neoliberal approaches circumvented the legal problematic by conflating sovereignty with the capacity for good governance. However, they depended on a strong sociocultural dichotomy, giving rise to accusations of neo-colonialism. In contrast, the resilience discourse emphasises the positive, transformative aspects of local agency, rather than seeing it as deficient and needing paternal guidance. This paper argues that by claiming to merely plus up already existing social practices, international policy engagement in the Global South becomes difficult to conceive as boundary transgression or hierarchical imposition. These insights are drawn out with reference to the Merida Initiative, a US-Mexican security agreement signed in 2007.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number7
Early online date4 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Conflict, Security & Development on 04/07/2018,, available online: 10.1080/14678802.2017.1337419

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • Intervention
  • Resilience
  • Neo-liberalism; knowledge
  • State-building
  • Sovereignty


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