Failed State

The concept of publishing this report is to develop ideas for promoting greater stability worldwide, to encourage debate and help guide strategies for sustainable security.

Failed state index

The Foreign Policy magazine and Fund For Peace (US) publish the failed state index every year. From 2005 onwards, six reports have been published. The report uses 12 indicators in social, economic and political terms. Each indicator has a scoring range of ‘zero to 12’ making a total score of 120. A higher score is indicative of increasing susceptibility to failure while a lower score indicates sustainability. The world map is thus drawn in four colours, i.e.

Red means lert, orange means warning, yellow means moderate and green means sustainable.

A failed state is defined as:

“One in which the government does not have effective control of its territory, is not perceived as legitimate by a significant portion of its population, does not provide domestic security or basic public services to its citizens, and lacks a monopoly on the use of force.”

The index covers countries at risk, not countries that have already failed. Below are the top 20 most vulnerable countries.

1. Somalia     2. Chad
3. Sudan     4. Zimbabwe
5. Democratic Republic of the Congo     6. Afghanistan
7. Iraq     8. Central African Republic
9. Guinea     10. Pakistan
11. Haiti     12. Côte d’Ivoire
13. Kenya     14. Nigeria
15. Yemen     16. Burma
17. Ethiopia     18. East Timor
19. North Korea     20. Niger

Somalia is at the top while Norway is at the bottom of the list.

The Foreign Policy magazine index ranks Pakistan 8.1 on demographic pressures, 8.9 on refugees and IDPs, 8.9 on human rights and 9.3 on external intervention.

The concept of publishing this report is to develop ideas for promoting greater stability worldwide, to encourage debate and help guide strategies for sustainable security.

The 12 indicators are:

Social indicators

Mounting demographic pressures
Pressures deriving from high population density relative to food supply and other life-sustaining resources.

Pressures deriving from group settlement patterns that affect the freedom to participate in common forms of human and physical activity, including economic productivity, travel, social interaction, religious worship.

Pressures deriving from group settlement patterns and physical settings, including border disputes, ownership or occupancy of land, access to transportation outlets, control of religious or historical sites, and proximity to environmental hazards.

Pressures from skewed population distributions, such as a “youth or age bulge,” or from divergent rates of population growth among competing communal groups.

Massive movement of refugees or internally displaced persons creating complex humanitarian emergencies

Forced uprooting of large communities as a result of random or targeted violence and/or repression, causing food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition, and turmoil that can spiral into larger humanitarian and security problems, both within and between countries.

Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance or group paranoia

  • History of aggrieved communal groups based on recent or past injustices, which could date back centuries.
  • Patterns of atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups.
  • Specific groups singled out by state authorities, or by dominant groups, for persecution or repression.
  • Institutionalised political exclusion.
  • Public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status or power as evidenced in the emergence of “hate” radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric.Economic indicators
    Uneven economic development along group lines
  • Group-based inequality, or perceived inequality, in education, jobs, and economic status.
  • Group-based impoverishment as measured by poverty level, infant mortality rates, education level.
    Rise of communal nationalism based on real or perceived group inequalities.

Sharp and/or severe economic decline

  • A pattern of progressive economic decline of the society as a whole as measured by per capita income, GNP, debt, child mortality rate, poverty level, business failure, and other economic measures.
  • Sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments.
  • Collapse or devaluation of the national currency.
  • Extreme social hardship imposed by economic austerity programme.
  • Growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight.
  • Increase in levels of corruption and illicit transactions among the general populace.
  • Failure of the state to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces or to meet other financial obligations to its citizens, such as pension payments.Political indicators
    Criminalisation and/or delegitimisation of the state
  • Massive and endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elite.
  • Resistance of ruling elite to transparency, accountability and political representation.
  • Widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes, e.g., widely boycotted or contested elections, mass public demonstrations, sustained civil disobedience, inability of the state to collect taxes, resistance to military conscription, rise of armed insurgencies.
  • Growth of crime syndicates linked to ruling elite.Progressive deterioration of public services
    Disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorism and violence and to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation.
    State apparatus narrows to those agencies that serve the ruling elite, such as the security forces, presidential staff, central bank, diplomatic service, customs and collection agencies.

    Suspension or arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violations of human rights
    Emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule in which constitutional and democratic institutions and processes are suspended or manipulated.
    Outbreak of politically inspired (as opposed to criminal) violence against innocent civilians.
    Rising number of political prisoners or dissidents who are denied due process consistent with international norms and practices.
    Widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights, including those of individuals, groups or cultural institutions (e.g., harassment of the press, politicisation of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution).

    Security apparatus operates as a “State within a State”
    Emergence of elite or guards that operate with impunity.
    Emergence of state-sponsored or state-supported private militias that terrorise political opponents, suspected “enemies,” or civilians seen to be sympathetic to the opposition.

    By: Dr Najam us Sahar Butt (CSP)


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