For sustainable human security, statebuilding is the only endgame. Absent the state, traditional mechanisms and authority structures might indeed manage communal issues, perhaps even better than would the state. Trans-communal issues like environmental degradation, complex humanitarian emergencies, and large scale conflict, however, go beyond the jurisdiction and capacity of such entities. Building a legitimate, professional, and representative state, therefore, is the only way to address the problems of the modern, interconnected world. This process is inherently messy, however, as demonstrated in the case of the world’s newest state, South Sudan, number four on this year’s Failed States Index.
Published June 24, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
The top several tiers of the annual Failed States Index (FSI) are often occupied not only by weak and fractured states at risk for conflict, but also states that have, over the years, been the proverbial thorns in the side of the international community. Each year these chart toppers, often impervious by either choice or circumstance to reform, test the mettle of world leaders tasked with coming up with strategies for dealing with their dangerous behavior.
The Failed States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Failed States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.
Published March 8, 2013 | By Patricia Taft, George Wah Williams
On a clear day in the middle of the dry season, it can take up to fifteen hours to travel less than 475 kilometers (350 miles) from Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia to Zwedru, the capital of Grand Gedeh County. Grand Gedeh lies in the southeast corner of Liberia, bordering Côte d’Ivoire, and has long been a restive region of the country. This is due to various factors including continued instability in Côte d’Ivoire, a large refugee population, and the lack of resources in the county.
On April 26, 2012, the International Criminal Court convicted Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor for his role in the commission of crimes against humanity during the war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. For Sierra Leone, this brought a dark chapter to a close — and for Liberia as well. From 1989 to 1990, Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson fought to overthrow then-president Samuel Doe. After Johnson captured and killed Doe (sipping a Budweiser as he chopped off his ears), he and Taylor fought a bloody war for control of Monrovia. Taylor eventually took power, but the country was plunged into a civil war that lasted until 2003 when peacekeepers were deployed and Taylor was exiled to Nigeria.
Published June 20, 2012 | By Patricia Taft
The most improved country in the 2012 Failed States Index, the landlocked Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, seems an unlikely one. Since independence from Russia in 1991, the country has been beset with a host of problems that have spanned political, social and economic lines. Like several of its Central Asian neighbors, the country plays host to various ethnic minorities, with Uzbeks the predominant group in the South of the country. Keeping in line with several other Central Asian Republics, Kyrgyzstan was ruled from independence by a series of authoritarian regimes which brutally quelled opposition and strangled freedom of expression in all its forms. Adding to the tinderbox are myriad demographic pressures resulting from disputes over natural resources, particularly in the Ferghana Valley, as well as the country’s complex relationship with Russia and, at times, the U.S.
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.
Since the Kony 2012 video about atrocities in Uganda went viral, there has been a backlash and counter-backlash over the campaign by Invisible Children to stop Joseph Kony and his rebels. Lost in the debate: the need to include the voices of Ugandans. No doubt: The crimes of Joseph Kony are monstrous. And now, thanks to Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign, millions more know about how he and his rag-tag forces destroyed communities and lives throughout northern Uganda and large swaths of East and Central Africa. The forcible conscription of children, the amputations, the sexual violence, and the pillaging of villages are Mr. Kony’s calling card. The predation began over 20 years ago. It continues to this day – though no longer in northern Uganda. It must be stopped.
existing regional criminal networks in the Tri-Border Area have the potential to facilitate acts of WMD terrorism through: formal and informal financial networks, communications infrastructure, the provision of safe havens and identity “laundering,” and tested routes for the smuggling of personnel and materials throughout the hemisphere. Therefore, the Tri-Border Area may offer a rich enabling environment that could support a WMD terrorism scenario anywhere in the world—one characterized by corruption; gaps in the capacities of state intelligence, border security, and immigration control services; large legitimate economies and trading networks; sophisticated nuclear technology and expertise; and the presence of transnational criminal networks that overlap with the membership and activities of radical movements and terrorist elements.