Publications by J. J. Messner

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Somalia Tops the Failed States Index for the Fourth Year Running

Published June 18, 2011 | By J. J. Messner

If the Failed States Index were a championship, then Somalia would be the undisputed four-time champion (or cellar-dweller, depending on how you look at it). In the seven years of the Failed States Index, Somalia has had the ignominious distinction of occupying the worst spot for the past four years straight. Despite having a relatively functional and pretty much autonomous ‘state’ in the north, Somaliland, the country as a whole still manages to score badly enough to make up for that glimmer of unrecognized hope. Worse still, the country is in no danger of losing its position anytime soon. A combination of widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, abysmal development and a penchant for inconveniencing the rest of the world by taking their merchant vessels hostage has given Somalia a score that – much as they seem to try – neither Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe nor the Democratic Republic of Congo can hope to match.

Most-Worsened Country for 2011: Haiti

Published June 18, 2011 | By J. J. Messner

The collapse of the Presidential Palace on Port-au-Prince after the January 2010 earthquake was sadly symbolic of the overall collapse of the Haitian state’s capacity to deal with that disaster, a lack of capacity that had become endemic across all aspects of Haiti’s governance. Though the exact figures are disputed, the earthquake claimed between 80,000 and 300,000 lives and displaced countless hundreds of thousands of Haitians. In the weeks and months following the disaster, scenes of human suffering poured out of Haiti, capturing the attention of the international community.

Most-Improved Country for 2011: Georgia

Published June 18, 2011 | By J. J. Messner

It is less than three years since Russia attacked Georgia, ostensibly over the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the 2009 Failed States Index, Georgia ranked 33rd and into the Alert category. Though the country has definitely performed better in the past (ranking as well as 60th in 2006), the fact that it has rebounded to 47th in this year’s Index is somewhat remarkable. Even more remarkable, Georgia is this year’s most improved nation in the 2011 Failed States Index, having improved by 10 positions and by a score of 4.0.

Natural Disasters and Their Effect on State Capacity

Published June 18, 2011 | By J. J. Messner and Melody Knight

From the earthquake in Haiti to the volcano in Iceland, 2010 was a big year for natural disasters. Over a quarter million people were killed last year, and millions displaced, as a result of blizzards, droughts, earthquakes, floods, heat waves, landslides, and super typhoons, making it the deadliest year in more than a generation. These disasters claimed the lives of over 290,000 people in 2010, compared with just 11,000 in 2009, according to Munich Re.