The Central African Republic (CAR) is a vast, beautiful land about the size of Texas, but with a fraction of its population. It is home to sprawling herds of forest elephants roaming the Dzanga-Ndoki national park along the Sangha River. Logging towns have sprung up where Muslim merchants sell bread and flip-flops. On the outskirts of town, Bayaka pygmies harvest honey, and play stringed instruments with their thumbs.
Identifying and exploring the fragility of states creates the opportunity to address how they might be able to combat pressures in the future. Learning what pressures states have been able (or unable) to reduce in the past year gives insight into the capacities that exist (or do not) within each state and their governments. The top ten are profiled to give context to why they fall on this end of the Index and how they have changed since the previous year. Only two countries within the top ten saw a worsening in their individual scores, South Sudan and Central African Republic. Seven showed improvement and one experienced little change.
Published December 17, 2013 | By Asibi Danjuma
Following nearly two years of a bloody insurgency, a sense of calm settled upon the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after the M23 rebel group called a halt to its operations that have brought terror to the eastern part of the country since April 2012. The last strongholds of the armed group in Tshanzu and Runyoni were captured by the Congolese army, the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), in early November and talks shifted to hopes of sustained disarmament and peace.
Published November 27, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
Every year, when the Failed States Index is published, we are asked to provide an example of a state that is failing “quietly.” A state that, except perhaps for a handful of concerned parties and outside business interests, does not make most international priority lists. And every year we mention the Central African Republic (CAR). This impoverished, deeply underdeveloped, diamond-rich country is in a very bad neighborhood indeed. Now, however, the country has become a fulcrum of instability in its own right. One that, without some immediate efforts to stop what has been rightfully termed by the International Crisis Group as a “free fall,” is bound to set off a new wave of catastrophe in beleaguered Central Africa.
Though it is called the Failed States Index, that is not to say that every country on the FSI is a failed state — after all, Finland is ranked on the FSI. That is also not to say that any country on the FSI is necessarily failed — though Somalia might be the closest approximation to what many people may consider to be a failed state. Rather, the Failed States Index measures the pressures experienced by countries and thus adjudges their susceptibility to state failure. Ranking top on the FSI does not in and of itself mean that a country is failed — it simply means that of all countries, that one country is the most at risk of failure.
As the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate in 2011, the country remains at the top of the Failed States Index for the fifth year in succession. Ten out of twelve of Somalia’s indicators scores were above 9.0 on a scale of 10. Indeed, the Refugees and IDPs as well as the Security Apparatus indicator scores remain at the highest possible level of 10.0. The absence of a permanent national government for twenty years was aggravated in 2011 by an upsurge of violence, massive human rights abuses and natural disasters. Worsened social conditions have added to political instability which led to mass displacement and impoverishment. Somalia also continues to be a relentless headache for international shipping, with the unrelenting activities of Somali pirates deep into the Indian Ocean. Despite attempts by external actors such as the African Union and neighboring Kenya to intervene in the conflict, terrorist activity by al-Shabaab and general unabating lawlessness has hampered such efforts.
On this year’s Failed States Index, Somalia scored as the worst offender for Refugees and IDPs, Economic Decline, Human rights and Security Apparatus. The absence of a permanent national government for almost twenty years has led to ongoing civil violence, economic hardship, poor social conditions, and the displacement of several million Somali citizens. It has become increasingly difficult for international agencies to provide aid to Somalia in light of the recent troubles with piracy and hostility towards foreigners. An upsurge of civil violence in the southern part of the nation has created further destabilization and threatens any potential improvements to Somalia’s condition.