Global Policy Forum

Iraq Rises Up Failed States Index

June 19, 2007

Iraq ranks as the world's second most unstable country, according to an annual index of failed states.

The report - compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank - ranks nations according to their vulnerability. Judged according to 12 criteria, including internal conflict and society breakdown, states range from the most failed, Sudan, to the least, Norway. Eight of the 10 most vulnerable states out of 177 examined are in Africa.

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Bleeding borders

The survey says that two of the countries at the forefront of the US war on terror - Iraq and Afghanistan - are also among the world's 10 most vulnerable countries. "Billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy," the report says.

Only Sudan - where violence in its western Darfur region has killed at least 200,000 people - is judged to be in a worse state than Iraq. The country's turmoil has also affected its neighbours, worsening the situation in both the Central African Republic and Chad. "The spill-over effects from Sudan have a great deal to do with the countries' tumble in the ranking, demonstrating that the dangers of failing states often bleed across borders," the report adds.

Growing economies

Last summer's war in Lebanon contributed to making it the country whose stability deteriorated most from last year, followed by Somalia, Equatorial Guinea and Niger. Despite its ranking as the seventh most vulnerable state, the Democratic Republic of Congo made what the survey calls "impressive gains". Holding the first multiparty elections in more than 40 years, the country "helped improve the state's legitimacy in the eyes of its impoverished populace".

Liberia is praised for its economy - growing at 7% - its demobilised militias and the efforts, led by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to tackle endemic corruption. China and Russia too, the index says, have managed to move out of the worst 60 states, both propelled by their growing economies.

The second annual Failed States Index was based on analysis of tens of thousands of articles including international and local media reports and public documents.

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Each nation was given an overall score based on the 12 criteria:

. mounting demographic pressures
. massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples
. legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance
. chronic and sustained human flight
. uneven economic development along group lines
. sharp and/or severe economic decline
. criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state
. progressive deterioration of public services
. widespread violation of human rights
. security apparatus as "state within a state"
. rise of factionalised elites
. intervention of other states or external actors

More Information on Nations & States
More Information on Failed States
More Information on Iraq


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