Failed States Index 2011:
The Troubled Ten

Published June 18, 2011
By Kristen Blandford, Annie Janus, Kendall Lawrence.
The Failed States Index 2011
  1. Somalia
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.

  2. Chad
Chad is threatened by regional and domestic instability. Rebel forces remain a destabilizing force in the country, though cross-border attacks between Sudanese and Chadian militias have decreased following a peace agreement between the two countries. Around 450,000 refugees and IDPs remain in the eastern region of Chad. The humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by continued pressure on food and water supplies in the region. Although Chad’s oil revenues have the potential to contribute to poverty reduction, they are just as likely to be siphoned off by corruption, perpetuating the Deby government’s illegitimacy and unaccountability.

  3. Sudan
Instability and violence continue to define Sudan. The southern half of the country voted to secede from the north in January 2011. Though this process has been partially successful, new clashes are now being reported between the North and the South, especially in and around Abyei. The discovery of oil in southern Sudan in 2005 exacerbated an already complex secession crisis and it remains to be seen how peaceful the planned separation will be. Violence also continues in Darfur, sending refugees into central Sudan and neighboring states, giving the conflict a regional dimension. Leaders in the North and the South will have to exercise restraint in the use of violence by fringe rebel groups if the fragile peace is to be kept.

  4. D. R. Congo
The D.R. Congo continues to struggle, with poverty remaining widespread throughout the country and violence and instability continuing in the east. In addition to a lack of capacity, the Congolese security forces lack credibility due to their widespread human rights abuses. There is a need for the government to better hold accountable members of the security forces and to punish those who are committing human rights abuses. Fighting corruption, ending the impunity of the security forces and creating a more capable and professional military are also key priorities. The need for increasing the capacity and legitimacy of government security forces has become increasingly urgent.

  5. Haiti
Following the devastating earthquake in January 2010, Haiti’s situation has deteriorated rapidly, with complete dependence on international humanitarian relief and the presence of foreign security forces. Haiti faces great challenges in rebuilding, a task further complicated by the country’s previously weak institutions and widespread extreme poverty. Haiti’s security forces are woefully unprepared to take over policing duties, and serious reforms will need to be implemented. Haiti’s government should work to demonstrate its commitment to the rebuilding process. In addition, leaders, especially recently elected President Michel Martelly, should make an effort to stem political instability and factionalism to create a government capable of guiding the country through the disaster recovery.

  6. Zimbabwe
Despite the power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe remains a highly unstable country, suffering from government repression, rigged elections, and poor economic performance. The power-sharing agreement has been undermined by arrests and intimidation of opposition leaders. The failure to fully implement the power-sharing agreement, and satisfactorily devolving power to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, severely undermines the government’s credibility. ZANU-PF also continues to use the state security apparatus as a political tool to harass opposition voices. The creation of a friendlier business environment, capable of luring émigrés home and attracting foreign investment will be necessary to help improve the economy.

  7. Afghanistan
Afghanistan has ranked in the top ten on the Failed States Index for the past five years.  The country faces many security challenges, including attacks on the American security forces and the widespread violence resulting from Taliban insurgent groups.  Insurgents and illegally armed anti-American groups continue to undermine efforts to forge a functioning government capable of providing access to basic necessities and able to implement public services.  Moreover, pervasive political corruption and the prominence of drug lords challenge state legitimacy. The government’s inability to control regions in which drug lords operate has made it difficult to combat the country’s robust drug trade and the growing black market. Until Afghanistan has the capacity to suppress its many security challenges, improves stability is unlikely.

  8. Central African Republic
The Central African Republic remains one of the least stable countries in the world, with spillover from neighboring conflicts likely to continue to destabilize the area. The country’s economy has stagnated under poor policies since independence. A history of coups d’etat has destabilized the government and allowed the rest of the country to fall into disorder. The government is unable to exert any substantive control over the more remote provinces and poor infrastructure prevents effective rule within the areas the government does control. A truce between the government and rebel forces in June 2008 led to the establishment of a more inclusive coalition government in January 2009. However, the postponement by almost a year of elections originally scheduled for early 2010 has undermined trust in the government and highlighted problems with the country’s political polarization.

  9. Iraq
The 2010 parliamentary elections marked the most comprehensive turn out in the country’s history.  Shia, Sunni and Kurds turned out in large numbers despite sporadic violence.  The initially positive but inconclusive results however, served to underscore the monumental challenges facing the central government.  While the Kurds remain the king makers for the position of Prime Minster, contentious political battles between Shia and Sunni went on for months following the elections.  Revenue sharing from the oil fields of Kirkut has yet to be resolved. Despite a Constitutional requirement that 1/4 of parliamentary seats be assigned to women, they were allotted only a single vague state ministerial position.  Foreign state influence continues to play a decisive role in political coalition formation inside Iraq. 

  10. Cote d'Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s movement on the 2011 Failed State Index can be attributed to the destabilizing post-election crisis that followed the 2010 elections. The incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power rekindled the country’s long-standing political, religious, and ethnic tensions. After approximately five months of fighting, Gbagbo agreed to transfer power to the internationally recognized president-elect, Alassane Ouattara.  Unfortunately, the political crisis caused the country to relapse after improving on the 2009 and 2010 Failed States Index. By weakening governance and inflaming social tensions, the crisis has left the country vulnerable to a resurgence of violence. Concentrated efforts to improve governance, strengthen institutions, and invoke reconciliation processes are sorely needed to mitigate Côte d’Ivoire’s fragile condition.