Failed States Index 2012:
The Troubled Ten (Plus One)
Published June 20, 2012
By Tierney Anderson, Raphaël Jaeger, Felipe Umaña, Natalie Manning, Amelia Whitehead.
The Failed States Index
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.
2. D. R. Congo
Following the disputed 2011 presidential election, the resource-rich D.R. Congo continued to struggle with instability, driven by a lack of state capacity and legitimacy. Despite the country’s vast resources, it is consumed by extreme poverty, which has led to food security issues and protests. A weak public sector, marred by corruption, is increasingly unable to provide essential services, making the need for social and political reforms even more urgent. Daily human rights abuses by security forces and Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the Eastern provinces led to an alarming number of displaced Congolese within the second-largest country in Africa. The government needs to hold these rebels accountable and increase the capacity of the security sector in order to work toward establishing peace and stability in the country. President Joseph Kabila should use the country’s wealth from the extractive industry to provide public services to citizens and improve the standard of living.
Sudan has made very few improvements since the advent of the Failed State Index, having topped the Index twice in the past seven years. Indeed, Sudan faces large-scale instability in its political, social, and economic realms, fed on by widespread ethnic, religious, and political armed conflicts throughout the country. In 2011 the country saw its southern autonomous province secede, taking many of Sudan’s profitable oil fields with its newfound independence. Sudan must now work hard to develop its other struggling sectors, despite its decrease in GDP growth. Violence and allegations of torture and rape committed by all parties, moreover, continue to mire the country’s record. These and other outstanding issues underline Sudan’s great need for a stronger, more legitimate government willing to protect its people and enact large-scale reform.
Not Ranked: South Sudan
South Sudan’s unranked first inclusion in the Failed States Index sheds a light on the dire condition of the fledgling nation. South Sudan has inherited its parent country’s social and political problems after independence in mid-2011. With only five months to introduce sweeping reform, the country faces some of the worst health and education indicators worldwide. Widespread violence has brought politics, the economy, and transportation and public service infrastructures to a halt. Indeed, South Sudan’s rampant insecurity has forced the government to spend its resources combating threats instead of promoting overall growth and development. In December 2011, escalations in cattle raids led to violent border clashes in the Jonglei state. The government was forced to declare the region a disaster zone after tens of thousands were killed or displaced. In sum, South Sudan’s poor indicators for the last five months of 2011 point to a troubled future for the young nation.
Over the course of 2011, Chad’s political and economic situation improved dramatically. The 2010 peace agreement between Chad and Sudan decreased levels of violence in the Darfur region, as the Deby government renounced its past support for rebel groups operating in the area. Increased oil revenues have also allowed Chad to begin developing its economy; however, these funds have mainly been used to finance the expansion of the security sector. Desertification and drought remain significant causes for concern, as does rising militancy in the region. Ultimately, though Chad has improved significantly from 2010 to 2011, rising from 2nd to 4th place in the Failed States Index, much remains to be done to ensure that this progress persists.
Despite some economic recovery and the end of one-party rule in 2009 through the creation of a ZANU-PF and MDC unity government, Zimbabwe is an unstable state. Reform has been slow, ministries are divided and inefficient, and President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party continues to dominate the country, using the security apparatus as a tool to intimidate, harass, and abuse any opposition. Government repression, political violence, corruption, and lawlessness have left Zimbabwe in a state of deep insecurity. Chronic shortages of food and fuel, along with an HIV/AIDS epidemic and little media freedom has contributed to the instability. The creation of a friendlier business environment, capable of attracting foreign investment is necessary to help improve the economy and reduce high rates of unemployment. Tensions are increasing as Zimbabwe approaches elections in the coming year.
Afghanistan’s dire security conditions make it one of the most dangerous countries in the world. With a whole host of pressure groups – from drug lords to the power-hungry Taliban – Afghanistan’s central government in Kabul faces many threats to its stability and permanence. About 80% of civilian deaths were attributed to the Taliban’s militant campaign in 2011, with the numbers increasing over 2010 figures. The lack of political cohesion further exacerbates the government’s inability to provide for its citizens. As major portions of the Afghani society prescribe to nomadic and traditional ideals, many do not view Kabul as the primary authority over national politics. Additionally, the provision of public services and economic development outside of populated areas are severely underdeveloped, which will likely remain so until Afghani security conditions ameliorate. It remains to be seen what affect the 2014 NATO withdrawal will have, especially given Kabul’s high dependence on the assistance of external actors.
Haiti remains one of the top ten worst performing countries in the 2012 Index, due to a slow recovery from the 2010 earthquake that reduced much of the capital to rubble. The country has demonstrated a poor capacity to deal with the aftermath of the disaster and continues to be heavily reliant on foreign aid. The rebuilding of infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals has barely begun. Over half a million people live in displacement camps, where disease and violence is prevalent. A cholera epidemic has added to Haiti’s woes, infecting nearly 5% of the population. While the Haitian government has made positive comments about developing Haiti, actual steps need to be taken to fix Haiti’s chronic structural deficiencies. Legitimizing the political system, developing rural areas and establishing a strong security sector are needed to facilitate Haiti’s recovery.
Yemen now ranks in the top ten on the Failed States Index due to the Arab Spring unsettling the country in 2011. Although the country saw the successful transition of government, ousted President Saleh still wields significant power in the country. The new incumbent, President Hadi, has been unable to get rid of many of Saleh''s loyalists who still hold top positions in the government and military. As tensions heighten between the North and South, President Hadi will need to address the grievances of Southern Yemeni, who believe they have been marginalized by the government. In addition, the establishment of a strong security sector will be vital to maintain peace, as Yemen’s extreme terrain has become home to militants and terrorist groups. Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and will need to diversify its economy before its oil is projected to run out in 2017.
Security problems have persisted as few improvements have been made in pacifying warring sects and marginalized ethnic groups. December 15, 2011 marked the official end of the Iraq War – a momentous end to a controversial nine-year international military campaign. The day following the last American troop departure, an arrest warrant was issued for the Sunni Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashemi, accusing him of hiring hit squads and advocating explosive tactics, symbolizing the still fraught conditions in Iraqi politics. The social atmosphere remains considerably divided, as ethnic and religious minority groups contest over political representation. Human rights are poorly protected. An increase in anti-government demonstrations in 2011 led to a tightening of the freedom of assembly. Overall, it remains to be seen how much positive change will be achieved during Iraq’s current transition period.
10. Central African Republic
Though the political and economic situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) improved slightly throughout 2011, leading the country to move from 8th to 10th place in the Failed States Index, CAR remains plagued by violence and instability. Fighting between government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army has led to mass migration, as civilians flee the violence. Humanitarian agencies operating in the region have struggled to adjust to the large influxes of refugees and internally displaced persons, now numbered at over 200,000. Though the 2010 peace accord with Sudan decreased levels of violence in the Darfur region, allowing some Sudanese refugees to return home, many remain, further destabilizing the country. The 2011 elections, which granted President Francois Bozize a second term in office, were marred by claims of electioneering and fraud, undermining trust in the federal government.