THE FAILED STATES INDEX 2008

July 25, 2008

Whether it is an unexpected food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world's weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes.  In the fourth annual Failed States Index, Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

Using 12 social, economic, political, and military indicators, they ranked 177 states in order of their vulnerability to violent internal conflict and societal deterioration.  Some of the indicators of instability include: demographic pressures, refugees and displaced persons, human flight, uneven development, delegitimization of sate, human rights and factionalized elites.  According to the 2008 rankings:

  • Somalia is the state with the greatest risk of failure.
  • Other unstable states in the top five include Sudan (2), Zimbabwe (3), Chad (4) and Iraq (5).
  • The rest of the top ten include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6), Afghanistan (7), Ivory Coast (8), Pakistan (9) and the Central African Republic (10).
  • All told, sub-Saharan African is home to 7 of the 10 most vulnerable states.

Foreign Policy notes that the states that demonstrated the most notable improvements, such as the Ivory Coast, Haiti and Liberia, are hosting U.N. peacekeeping operations.  The states whose stability has worsened to the greatest extent over the past year are Pakistan, Israel and Bangladesh. 

Source: "The Failed State Index 2008," Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace, July/August 2008.

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