Pressure Mounts on Syria

Published June 20, 2012 | By Natalie Manning

The Arab Spring was one of the biggest stories of 2011, and many of its effects have been registered in the 2012 Failed States Index — Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen all saw their scores seriously worsen. For some, the tension has eased, at least for now. For others, conflict and instability continues. The Arab Spring hit Syria in April 2011 with demonstrations in the southern town of Dara’a against the government’s heavy handed response to students who had spray painted anti-government slogans. The uprising quickly spread and President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces brutally cracked down on the population. By late 2011, the opposition had transformed from a peaceful movement into an armed insurrection. An estimated 13,000 people have died since the conflict began, and thousands more have been displaced as the country spirals further towards civil war.

A Greek Tragedy

Published June 20, 2012 | By Patricia Taft

Continuing its downward spiral in the 2012 Failed States Index, Greece, the cradle of democracy, continued to fall into chaos. For a second year running, the country worsened across almost every indicator score with the political and economic indicators experiencing the deepest decline. In 2011, the Greek economy continued to backslide as the unemployment rate hovered around 20% for the year, with an estimated 50% of young Greeks unemployed. As in 2010, political crises ensued, and the perceived legitimacy of the Greek government plunged as more and more Greek citizens questioned the ability of elected officials to drag their country out of the morass. Indeed, throughout 2011, the general worsening of the indicators which measure economic, political and social pressures evidenced that the financial crisis that had gripped the country for two years was quickly spreading across multiple sectors. Public rage was palpable with tens of thousands of Greeks taking to the streets in June to protest proposed austerity measures that included significant tax hikes.

The Meltdown of Japan

Published June 20, 2012 | By Felipe Umaña

The year 2011 was a difficult one for Japan. On March 11, the 9.0-magnitude Tōhoku earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan, triggering a powerful tsunami that left destruction in its wake as it traveled over five miles inland. Numerous landslides occurred in the countryside and several large-scale nuclear meltdowns were reported in a number of nuclear facilities that were found to be unprepared for the strength of the waves. In the resulting calamity, the government of Japan was forced to declare a state of emergency and focus its first response teams on the afflicted northeastern areas.

An Inauspicious Welcome to South Sudan

Published June 20, 2012 | By Kendall Lawrence

Holding the title as the world’s newest nation, South Sudan gained its independence on July 9, 2011. With only a half year of data belonging to the new country, it was scored but not ranked on this year’s Failed States Index (FSI). Had it been ranked, it would have come in 4th on the index, just better than its parent to the north, Sudan. It represents only the third occasion that the Fund for Peace has divided a country for the purpose of analysis. Most recently, Serbia has been divided twice since the beginning of the FSI: in 2007, Serbia and Montenegro were analyzed separately after the previous union was dissolved. More recently in 2011, Kosovo was removed from analysis on Serbia (though Kosovo is not analyzed as part of the Failed States Index as it is not a UN-recognized state). As countries split, pressures will shift, historically reducing, though that may not be the case with Sudan and South Sudan. Despite the split, active conflict between the neighboring states has continued.

Failed States Index Trends Over Time

Published June 20, 2012 | By Nate Haken

Shocks and stresses rocked the international system over the last five years. A food crisis swept the globe in 2008 sparking violence and political turmoil from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia. This was followed in 2009 by the worst global economic downturn since World War II. Then, with the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan, 2010 was the second most deadly year since the 1980s for natural disasters. If 2010 was among the most deadly, 2011 was the most costly ever recorded, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Then, also in 2011, a contagion of democracy and civil war was unleashed across North Africa and the Middle East, inspiring populist movements all over the world.

Technology for Conflict Assessment

Published June 18, 2012 | By Krista Hendry

One of the greatest challenges in assessing the potential for violent conflict or state collapse is data collection. Despite ten years of constant work to find or develop new ways to collect or create data, there is still much left to be done. Working with partners in the air and on the ground, we are trying to improve our ability to perform assessments with greater efficiency, accuracy, and at levels of granularity that makes the analysis more useful in the design of responses.

Press Release: Failed States Index 2012 Released

Published June 18, 2012 | News from The Fund for Peace

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Fund for Peace today released the eighth edition of its annual Failed States Index (FSI), highlighting global political, economic and social pressures experienced by states. The 2012 FSI ranks Somalia as number one for the fifth consecutive year, citing widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels. Meanwhile, Finland has remained in the best position, with its Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Denmark rounding out the best three rankings. All three nations benefit from strong social and economic indicators, paired with excellent provision of public services and respect for human rights and the rule of law.