Global Policy Forum

Failed State Archived Articles


Failed States


Back to Current Articles | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999

Living in Somalia's Anarchy (November 18, 2004)

Somalia's denizens live "nasty, brutish and short" lives in the only country in the world without some form of government. One diplomat describes the place as "a pure free market" where hawkers sell passports and machine guns side-by-side in the street. The author concludes that "we all seem to enjoy criticising our governments but life in Somalia shows the alternative is far worse." (BBC)

The Idea of the Nation State Is Fatally Flawed (August 19, 2004)

The article questions the notion of "failed states" and suggests that most states have collapsed after the decolonization because they were "western constructs in the first place." He proposes regional groupings, such as the African Union or the European Union backed by the United Nations, as an alternative to the traditional idea of statehood. (Independent)

Africa and the Crisis of Instability (March 30, 2004)

This article argues that many African failing states face serious political, social and economic problems, including inter- and intra-state conflicts and religious extremism. The author urges African leaders to take immediate actions to transform these failed and failing African states into functioning states, founded on the principles of justice, peace and security. (Vanguard)

UN Gets $520 Million Pledge to Rebuild War-Torn Liberia (February 7, 2004)

At an international conference to raise funds to rebuild Liberia, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan gave an impassioned speech denouncing the "long-running nightmare that has disgraced humankind" in this war-ravaged country. The conference raised donations of $520 million for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts. (New York Times)

Nepal & the Bush Administration: Into Thin Air (February 1, 2004)

A flood of US weaponry and small arms into Nepal has led to escalating death rates in a civil war the US administration fears could transform the country into a "failed state." (Portside)

Rebuilding Liberia: Prospects and Perils (January 30, 2004)

This International Crisis Groupreport argues local politicians in Liberia are deliberately jeopardizing the peace process for the sake of jobs, causing near-paralysis in the corrupt transitional government. UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) deployment and operational mistakes have also compromised disarmament efforts and further delayed the peace process.

Somalia's Warlords: Feeding on a Failed State (January 21, 2004)

The article examines how "warlords, warmongers and wannabe presidents" stymie attempts to fashion a transitional government in long-suffering Somalia. (International Herald Tribune)


Back to Current Articles | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999

Failed and Collapsed States in the International System (December 2003)

This report suggests failed and collapsed states are a structural trait of the contemporary international system, and not a "temporary dysfunction of the Westphalia inter-state order." It argues these structural anomalies produce tensions in the international system, with serious consequences for developed and developing nations alike. (The African Studies centre, Leiden; The Transnational Institute, Amsterdam; The Center of Social Studies, Coimbra University, and The Peace Research Center – CIP-FUHEM, Madrid)

Dealing with Failed States II: Global Natural Resources Fund (July 23, 2003)

In many failed states, factions compete for natural resources, seeking to take the profits abroad. The article proposes an international institution to ensure the rents from natural resources can be "ploughed back" to the country of origin. (Business Standard)

Australia Enters Island War Zone (June 29, 2003)

Breaking from its traditional non-military approach, Australia prepares to send troops to the Solomon Islands to combat civil war, gang violence and corruption. This campaign represents Australia's largest intervention since 1945. (Sunday Herald)

Will Papua New Guinea Become a 'Failed State'? (April 8, 2003)

The co-author of a report on Papua New Guinea by the Center for Independent Studies, Sydney, warns the country may be headed into a downward spiral of violence and poverty. She urges the Australian government to reconsider its role as a "disinterested" donor and to actively support Papua New Guinea's development. (International Herald Tribune)

The Day After In Iraq: Lessons From Afghanistan (March, 2003)

Decades of foreign intervention and war decimated Afghanistan's capacity to maintain a viable state, and the international community's post 9-11 nation-building efforts have proven insufficient. Now, a US-led war on Iraq may plunge the country into chaos and ethnic warfare, and post-war reconstruction plans remain unclear. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Play to Win: Final Report of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Post-Conflict Reconstruction (January 2003)

Despite over a decade of engaging with failed states and post-conflict reconstruction efforts the US capacity for addressing these challenges remains "woefully inadequate." The report addresses some of the more serious gaps in the US's post-conflict reconstruction capacity. (Center for Strategic and International Studies / Association for the United States Army)


Back to Current Articles | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999

Afghanistan: Reemergence of a State (December 21, 2002)

This analytical piece discusses the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the removal of the Taliban. The authors focus on how to create a sense of nationhood and how to pay for the nation building as well as the role of Afghanistan's neighbors. (Center for Defense Information)

Somalia: Salvaging the Failed State (August 24, 2002)

This reunification proposal by a Somali consultant reveals the kinds of political, social, and economic crises that can lead to a breakdown of the state. Above all, the proposal highlights the danger of using the "clan" system to organize a multi-ethnic state. (Somaliland Net)

Indonesia: A Failed State? (Summer, 2002)

The fall of Suharto in 1998 left a power vacuum in Indonesia, inflaming regional conflicts and undermining rule of law. To avoid falling into the lawlessness of a failed state, Indonesia will have to strengthen its judicial system, establish a social safety net, and rid the government of rampant corruption. (Washington Quarterly)

The New Nature of Nation-State Failure (Summer, 2002)

Robert Rotberg of Harvard University claims that "nation-states fail because they can no longer deliver positive political goods to their people." He argues that states fail when they lose their monopoly on violence to non-state actors. (Washington Quarterly)

Somalia: Countering Terrorism in a Failed State (May 23, 2002)

International attention has turned to Somalia and its possible participation in the "war on terror." However, International Crisis Groupdraws attention to the long term strategy needed in Somalia to combat terrorism and argues, "it is the instability and power vacuum emerging from the collapse of the Somali state that poses the greatest danger both to the outside world and to Somalis."


Back to Current Articles | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999

Jack Straw: There Is Nothing Inevitable in the Failure of States (October 22, 2001)

"The state not only makes war possible: it also makes peace possible." The latest geo-political developments showed that conflicts often arise when the state fails and when international cooperation lacks. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office)


Back to Current Articles | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999

The "Failed State" and International Law (December 30, 1999)

This document from the International Committee of the Red Crossprovides an excellent overview of the phenomenon of the "failed state" from a political, historical, legal, and sociological perspective. It also describes how the international community copes with the humanitarian and legal challenges that a failed state leaves in its wake.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.