And The Winners (or Losers) Are...

For the past 5 years Foreign Policy has come out with the Failed States Index that ranks the most unstable, unsuccessful, and all-around disappointing countries. The top 10 most failed states should come as no surprise for most of us, seeing the majority of them have just swapped positions on the list for the past 5 years. The failed state index rates countries based on 12 degrees of 'failure', from the number of refugees/IDPs, to the illegitimacy of the state, to human rights, to external intervention. Congratulations to the top 5 this year because this is all their 2nd year making it to the top five. That takes some hard work...or perhaps lack decent governments. So without further ado, let's take a look at the world's biggest basket-cases. 

The number 1 failed state is... drum-roll...Somalia. I think that Somalia is now the poster country for the failed state index because it has topped the list for the past 3 years. But with the transitional government only controlling a few blocks on Mogadishu, it should really come as no shock. I'm still amazed that the Western-backed government has managed to keep a grip on those remaining few blocks! From reading the news I would have thought that they'd lost all control up to their gates. In fact, Somalia is such a huge disaster that it leaves all other nations without any clue on how to handle them...for the past two decades! However, being the world's most failed state for three years in a row - they've had some practice. And no, Somalia, there is no gold trophy for being the world's biggest letdown...I'm sincerely sorry. 

Chad follows Somalia in the number 2 position. Personally, I'm surprised that Chad is more 'failed' than Sudan! Many of Chad's issues stem from the conflicts that surround its borders, namely those with Sudan. Nearly 300,000 Sudanese refugees remain in the east of the country while 50,000 Central African Republic refugees live in the south. Chadian President Déby (who's been in power for 20 years now) isn't helping the country either. You'd think that after being 'President' for 20 years, he would've got his act together by now, but no, that isn't the case for Déby. So far all he has managed to effectively do is redirect humanitarian funding to benefit his military (great job...no, seriously, smart move) and really tick off neighboring Sudanese President Bashir by supporting the Darfur rebels. In return (like any good dictator would do), Bashir supports the Chadian rebels, starting proxy war between Sudan and Chad. By the looks of things, those two have really got it all figured out.

Number 3 for the second year in a row: Sudan. Luckily for them they've dropped from being in first in 2007, to 2nd in 2008! The situation there isn't looking all that much brighter though. Bashir's arrest warrant from the ICC now accuses him of genocide and the situation is looking grim in Darfur as violence rises and even in South Sudan were a referendum is theoretically (hopefully!) set to take place in 2011 that will allow the Southern Sudanese to vote on whether or not they want to secede. However, with most of Sudan's oil in the South, the split will most likely not be an easy one. Although Sudan came in third for the most failed states, I believe they take home the gold for having the world's biggest despot President. 

Ivory Coast
Mugabe (dictator for 30 years) somehow managed to pull Zimbabwe from number 2 in 2009 to number 4 this year. Fantastic job Mr. President. Too bad he's are still a horrible leader. Things have improved a little (very little) for Zimbabwe when Mugabe and his opponent, Tsvangirai, signed a power-sharing agreement in 2009. But things aren't looking too much more hopeful the Zimbabwe's civilians and now the Zimbabwe military is being accused of "violently seizing control" of diamond mines in the east of the country. But congratulations to Zimbabwe for being the only country in the top 5 who is not accused of using child soldiers according to this US report!

Rounding out the top 5 is the Democratic Republic of Congo. DRC has always been cursed by its abundance of natural resources that are now being exploited by the government. The country has also come under scrutiny for giving conflict minerals to electronics companies worldwide. So basically, as we are texting on our phones and purchasing new laptops, we are indirectly fueling war in DRC...what a lovely thought. The humanitarian disaster in DRC isn't anything new. Even after the 'end' of the decades of civil wars, violence is still commonplace in the east - continuously displacing a huge number of civilians (recently 90,000 were displaced in North Kivu), which makes the bad situation even worse. 

Coming in soon after the top 5 are all the other usual suspects like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger, North Korea, Burma, Nigeria, Haiti and Yemen whose names are all synonymous with failed. I'd recommend taking a look at the entire Failed State Index list which has the top 60 failed nations. For all you visual people out there, Foreign Policy created a photo album of the top 60 failed states called 'Postcards from Hell' just for you. Along with going through the countries in order from 'most failed' to 'slightly less dysfunctional', they give you a picture of the situation there as well as a brief synopsis for why that country is...well to put it bluntly, screwed up. Sorry for all my extremely cynical babble, but seeing as I will be working in some way or another in several of these countries when I'm older, their failure gravely disappoints me and I don't see change ahead for any of them unless they get their acts together. Aid can only go so far without the cooperation of the governments. I'll leave you today with some of the photos from Postcards from Hell
Sierra Leone


  1. Mary9.8.10

    Flipping through these photos I am once again reminded of how blessed I am to live in the USA. If only Americans were more aware of their riches and took them less for granted. Instead they just want for more.

    As for Sierra Leone, I remain hopeful as I have witnessed the goodness, resolve, tenacity and hope of the people first hand on two occasions. I pray they prosper!

  2. I agree, if only those in developed nations knew more about the living conditions in these countries, they wouldn't take advantage of all that they have. I knew what was going on in most of these countries for them to be on the list but there were several I didn't like Comoros, East Timor, Moldova, and Solomon Islands and several others which goes to show that the media doesn't cover the situations very well...

    I completely agree, I think the will of the Sierra Leonean people will pull them through. Although they've gotten high on the list this year, I think they are finally getting their act together. As long as the government continuous to 'fight corruption' and not just say those words, then they should be fine. :)However the picture of the man sitting on the garbage in Freetown does paint a bleak picture. S.L has a long road ahead of them but they can make it if they try.


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