Sudan, Iraq, Somalia top “failed states index”

Sudan, Iraq and Somalia top an independent ranking of the world’s leading failed states by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace. The annual “Failed States Index” ranks 177 countries according to 12 social, economic, political and military indicators. Leading benchmarks for failed state status are loss of physical control of territory or monopoly on the use of force, erosion of legitimate authority, and inability to provide reasonable public services.

The 10 most unstable countries listed in the index are Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Guinea and Central African Republic.

Foreign Policy magazine is published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank. The Fund for Peace is an independent research group devoted to preventing and resolving conflicts. (Reuters, June 18)

The Fund for Peace Failed States Index page shows a color-coded map dividing the world’s nations into the categories of “alert” (red), “warning” (pink), “monitoring” (pale yellow) and “sustainable” (green). Africa has 13 of the world’s 23 “alerts,” the highest share—covering much of West Africa (including regional giant Nigeria), Central Africa and the Horn (although interestingly, US ally Ethiopia is red while rival Eritrea is pink). All the rest of Africa is pink except for “monitoring” South Africa. Asia is overwhelmingly pink or red, the only exceptions being “monitoring” Oman, Mongolia and South Korea, and “sustainable” Japan. Strategic US ally Pakistan is considered an “alert,” as are Yemen, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma and North Korea. The Western Hemisphere’s only “alert” is Colombia, but nearly all of Latin America is pink except the “monitoring” Southern Cone nations. Ominously, the United States is in the “monitoring” category, as is most of Europe. In fact, the only safely “green” states are Canada, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Low Countries, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

A recent study by the UK-based Minority Rights Group ranking countries where minorities are most under threat placed many of the same in the top ten.