Sunday, May 28 2023

Saying that a country is a failed state is not just a statement about declaring a nation or a sovereign state as unstable. There are several indicators and methodologies applied by the concerned organizations in order to rank countries based on their sustainability, stability, warning or unstableness. The very first Failed State Index (FSI) was provided by a joint venture of the United States Think Tank and the Fund for Peace organization. The report was published for the first time in 2005 by Foreign Policy magazine and since then FSI report has been an annual occurrence, much like other indexes for environment, pollution, green policies etc. Till 2014, the index was known as Failed States Index which has now been rebranded as Fragile States Index and a few differences in the methodology of categorizing the country.

top failed states

Main Failure Indicators of a Nation

The system works by identifying 12 key indicators that pertain to the stability of a country. Each indicator is then given a score between 0 and 10; with 0 being the lowest intensity which means most stable and the score of 10 meaning the most unstable. So the country that is least stable can get a score of up to 120.
There are three main categories of Indicators.

1. Social Indicators

  • Demographic Pressure is an indicator of population density that can affect the food supply, resources, disease and population control as well as other environmental hazards.
  • IDPs mean the refugees and population displacement both internally and people leaving the country.
  • Group Grievance is an indicator that follows tension and potential of violence between groups.
  • Human Flight and Brain Drain pertains to the educated population that often leaves the country or a region following a conflict.

different failed states

2. Economic Indicators

  • Uneven Economic Development is a group based inequality where there is existence of slums and some selected parts of the country, state or a city that get economic development.
  • Poverty and Economic Decline means the economic decline of a state as a whole with inflation rates climbing and GNI remaining the same.

top failed states in the world

3. Political Indicators

  • State Legitimacy covers the confidence of citizens in the dealings of state’s governing body.
  • Public Service measures public services like healthcare, education, transport, law and order, sanitation and infrastructure and its lack thereof.
  • Human Rights violation or uneven protection of right between the wealthy and the poor.
  • Security Apparatus measures internal conflict, rebel activities and government sponsored militias.
  • Factionalized Elites shows factions in the elites of the society and power struggle that undermines the public confidence.
  • External Interventions are the level of assistance from UN bodies or other states.

list of failed states in the world


There are few countries or states like Taiwan, Northern Cyprus, Kosovo and Palestinian Territories that are not assessed, they receive a grey color. A score of 0 – 29 receives a blue color and a distinction of being a sustainable state. Scores between 30 and 59.9 show green color and a stable bracket. Countries with score 60 to 89.9 are deemed warning state and a color between yellow and orange depending on their placement in the bracket. The countries with scores between 90 and 120 are on alert with 90 – 99.9 being on alert, 100 – 109.9 being on high alert, and scores of 110 – 120 designated as very high alert for the states.

top failed states in the world

List of Top 10 Fragile States / Countries in the World

Note: The figures are rounded off and also subject to change

Rank Country Failed State Index
1. South Sudan 113.9
2. Somalia 113.4
3. Central African Republic 112.6
4. Yemen 111.1
5. Sudan 110.6
6. Syria 110.6
7. Democratic Republic of the Congo 110.0
8. Chad 109.4
9. Afghanistan 107.3
10. Iraq 105.4

Q : Which is the most Fragile country in the world ?

Ans: At present South Sudan is the most fragile country in the world.
These scores are a measurements of current and past behaviours of relevancy and don’t have any impact on future developments. A stable state may start deteriorating at a faster pace or a state on High Alert may have time to sort out its governmental function and steer towards a more stable environment.

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Sajjad Ali

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