Talk:Failed state

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General Versus Specific usage of the term "Failed State"[edit]

It might be useful in the article to distinguish more explicitly between the general usage of the term "Failed State" and the Failed State Index managed by Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine.

Speaking generally, Liberia would have to be near the top of any list of failed states, but speaking specifically there is not sufficient data to rate Liberia on the official Failed State Index.

The article does draw this distinction, but I humbly submit that the fact that the lists of failed states are based on specific rating system that is not inclusive of all countries might be better emphasized. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:40, 5 February 2010 (UTC) Nepal is recently considered failed state. Nepalis political leaders are highly involved in horse trading in parliament. Sounds great. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

The term Failed State is dramatic. There are very few failed states, and plenty of states that have not failed, but perform poorly. The Index is approximately an inversion of the Human Development Index, which attempts to be a measure of national well being. A state has either failed or it has not, and there is limited grey area between the two categories. Germany and Japan at the end of WW2 were not failed states, because the governments and administration were functioning, albeit poorly. DavidJErskine (talk) 07:45, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

18th century Poland[edit]

Could 18th century Poland be classed as a 'failed state'? —Preceding unsigned comment added by GCarty (talkcontribs) 13:36, 20 November 2003


Can Chechnya at the time of separatist rule be added to the list of countries labeled as failed states? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mzabaluev (talkcontribs) 21:13, 9 March 2005

No. Chechnya never was a state. It fell under the Russian state, and the Russian state failed to adequately control it at one time, but it wasn't a state in and of itself. Now if Chechnya broke away and became an independent state, and the Chechen government was unable to enforce law and order throughout Chechnya, then they would be a failed state. — Phil Welch 03:23, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

I should add that on Wikipedia there is no original research allowed, so in order to list a country as a failed state, someone else must have already classified them as such. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and encyclopedias are by nature secondary if not tertiary material. — Phil Welch 03:26, 13 August 2005 (UTC)


Is it possible to label some countries without a clear national identity and strong sense of separatism such as in Belgium as a failed state? Please forgive me if this remark offends anyone. Meursault2004 09:05, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

An intelectually provocative point you raise--but the term as mostly used refers to political/administrative control, not to national identity. Your observation is valid, but I think would be best addressed in the topic of nationalism not failed state. ~ Dpr 09:09, 31 May 2005 (UTC)
Thanks your quick reaction. Yeah, you might be right. Meursault2004 10:25, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

Actually there is more to it. I do not know how important a parameter a good system of justice is in this failed state list, but there is still an enormous problem in Belgium's legal system: lawyers are still able to drag on proceedings, and there is an enormous bureaucratic mess in the whole organisation of schedules, trials and verdicts (the use of computers is a recent novelty). 5 years ago a lawyer on French-speaking state television RTBF claimed in a debate on failing (!) justice in Belgium that there was a backlog of two million cases, one half of which was outdated - no verdict necessary anymore, eg because one of the parties has died, or circumstances have changed precisely because of the delay (eg whenever a minor inherits something, a judge has to rule whether it's proper for him/her to accept the inheritance - Belgians simply know that when there is a contention raised by another heir, the minor will usually be 25 when a verdict could be reached) and so on. Although there is a law on divorce stating two years' separation as a ground for divorce, most people who get divorced on the basis of this article (in most cases, you still need a judge to proclaim you are divorced) get their divorce only after 4-5 years (occasionally even 10).

Now guess what - the backlog also exists on the "linguistic front". In 1972, a European court ruled that the Belgian law concerning French-language schools in the notorious "six communes" in the Flemish periphery was discriminatory in that it did not allow French speaking children from other villages to enrol in these schools, whereas Dutch speaking children from Brussels or Walloonia were allowed to enrol in the Dutch-language schools of the smae six communes. Some foreigners may think this a technicality which can be solved very easily (the number of "foreign" Dutch speaking children is exactly 0 in five of the six villages) but believe it or not, we are now in 2006 and the Belgian government still has not been able to change this part of the law. So, when Dutch speakers in Comines-Komen wanted a "Flemish" school, French speaking politicians used all the intricacies of the law to try to prevent it or at least delay it as long as possible. Such is the Belgian version of "checks and balances". User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 07:54, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Although I wouldn't characterize Belgium as a "failed state," I think it would be interesting to note in the article that Belgium spent 250 days without a national government, yet was able to maintain peace and control through pre-existing bureaucracy.,8599,2052843,00.html, and The article might have added value if someone could explain why Belgium was able to maintain territorial control and continue providing public services without government, while some (failed) states that have governments can't provide either. --Lacarids (talk) 08:14, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Needs reconciling with Chomsky's book[edit]

This article needs reconciling with Chomsky's book and use of the term in it. -Christiaan 20:56, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Beyond failed[edit]

Hasn't Somalia over the past decade really been something of a sui generis, where the state has simply ceased to exist except as lines drawn on a map? Isn't there some more appropriate term or legal understanding for that fairly unprecedented situation than "failed state"?--Pharos 05:41, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

That would be what i'd call an EPIC FAILED STATE —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 30 March 2009 (UTC)


Howcome Pakistan is a failed state? Pakistan can be found in the emerging market article on Wikipedia. I am confused that howcome the same country is on both the lists? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:11, 18 July 2006

Iraq has the fastest GDP growth for the last two years (an astonishing 50%+). That doesn't make it any more of a successful nation, given its problems. A failed state tag has little to do with the economy, and more with the political scenario. --Idleguy 10:17, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Is it because of all those rebels?BLA and all? About that Iraq thing- if my economy consists of two tea stalls and I build 1 more, then my economy grows by 50%, doesn't it? But I personally think there were more nations which deserved to be failed states- Israel (not trying to offend anyone) for instance because Israel has more rebellions than any one...moreover South Asia is THE emerging Asia! (even Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh) I believe have been successful..... then why Pakistan? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:28, 20 July 2006

You are right about the economy example. As for the reasons, the magazine says the conflict in Waziristan and the earthquake which hit Pakistan and the inefficient relief that followed as well as other sectarian violences are to blame. --Idleguy 01:58, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Reply to Idleguy: The relief effort was a success and is regarded as the best example of military-NGO cooperation. With regards to Waziristan, it is a small part of Pakistan and does not represent it entirely. I dont think Pakistan at all belongs in this "Failed States" index. I think whoever wrote this index put the minimum effort into it.

Thanks for the information.

These magazine folks are sitting thousands of miles away, passing judgement on extremely difficult situations and issues without as much as moving a finger. I think their judgements are useless.

(10/01/08) But looks like they have been right about Pakistan —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:25, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Damn right, actually ...--Mozdeh (talk) 03:47, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Origin of Phrase[edit]

I reccomend that at the beginning we mention the origin of the phrase. If I remember correctly, the phrase originated in the 1990's from Bill Clinton. User:Green01 6:50, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

HOW THE HELL IS THE US AND UK A FAILED STATE - I'm sitting right now in a supposed failed state without any fear of a warlord marching down my road. WTF?

You disagree with something and then delete it? That's not Wiki protocall and is very unhelpful behaviour. I will consider putting it back after hearing others' opinion on your actions. User:Green01 11:00, 12 October 2006 (UTC).

Fund for Peace[edit]

I have changed the reference to Foreign Policy magazine's publishing of the Failed States Index. The Index was actually created by the Fund for Peace, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C. The Index is still maintained and published by the Fund for Peace. Foreign Policy magazine simply pays FfP a yearly fee to re-publish it. J.J. 19:25, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Fundamental controversy[edit]

Just because this term is in vogue in certain think-tanks and academic circles in the West (and has since been rather unthinkingly adopted by some media pundits), does not justify its unquestioned inclusion in Wiki. I vote either removing it completely, and adding it as a note or section elsewhere, or else significantly expanding the 'controversy' section here to include most of the current article. The Failed States Index is far from authoritative, thoroughly questionable, and should not be given centre-stage - it should get a mention and a footnote.

The idea that you can index 'state failure' with such certainty is patently absurd, and even dangerous. A state can 'fail' to do this or that, or can 'fail' to conform to the norms of the currently dominant ideology, but declaring a state to be 'failed' has a ring of finality about it that serves as perfect justification for the interventionist brigade. "This state has FAILED! We gotta go in!"

Just look at the recent debacle in Somalia, where the recent attempt to set up the first government with a popular mandate there for years was immediately shot down in flames by Ethiopians and Americans who didn't like the idea of an independent Islamic state. It's an Islamic country! The only 'modern' states Somalia has ever known have been (Brit & Italian) colonial regimes, and a externally supported communist dictatorship. The first time some people form an organic polity in the place, it is regarded as an abhorrent threat. Of course, Ethiopia's neutrality is unquestionable... The accusations that it was a Taleban-like regime revealed the total paucity of imagination of the predictable pundits. Independent Islamic regime = Taleban. Nonsense - and now look at the place - it'll be screwed up again for years...

The Failed States Index describes Iraq as a 'failed state' too. Erm... without getting too Chomsky-esque, can I just ask who is responsible for the 'failure' there?

I am rather shocked that Wiki let this one slip through, and I'm very far from being a Chomsky-ite or Marxist!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Wiki was supposed to aspire to neutrality, not act as a propaganda tool.

On balance, I think we should work on a completely new article about the use of the term 'failed states': stating where it first appeared (- I think it was an article by Heilman & Ratner in Foreign Policy 1993 - later used by Clinton); a few interesting examples of which states it has been applied to; potential uses and abuses; and including the Failed States Index not as a key part of the definition, but as a footnote. Of course, some historical detail of state formation would be essential, but would have to be brief. BTW - yes, Poland in the 18th century would now be classed as a failed state - so would almost all the polities of early modern Europe, by the Index's ridiculous, de-contextualised methodology!

As far as I know, the Fund for Peace (authors of the Failure Index) operates under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace (the coalition that partook in Kosovo '99), which is part of NATO. Is that politically neutral? Hasslehoof 02:48, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I think a reform to the concept could be to look at it from the bottom-up. Is the state failing in fundamental aspects of security for group(s) of people —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:31, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Can anybody provide a source about "failed states" that's non U.S.American? The whole concept is not in existence in Germany to my knowledge. It sounds to me like a concept born to justify the invasion/intervention anywhere 'because that state is failed anyway'. At the very least the definition should reflect that this judgment about the existence of failed states and what state is failed or not is not universally accepted. The term is defined as if it was widely accepted, like for example official U.N. nomenclature is. But so far it's merely a product of American politicians and think tanks that's in use in the USA. Lastdingo (talk) 19:26, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

‘A failed state is one whose government is not effective or legitimate enough to maintain the rule of law, protect itself, its citizens and its borders, or provide the most basic services. A fragile state is one in which those problems are likely to arise.' Paragraph 3.21 on page 14 of the 2008 National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom. PlasticFork (talk) 17:53, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
LastDingo, The Secretary General of the United Nations uses the term also (article is from 2006; UNSG at the time was Kofi Anon);
Der Spiegel seems to have recognized the existence of the term, as well as its translation Gescheiterter Staat, especially in regards to Somalia,1518,656838,00.html
Here are several items that might interest you (since your believe that the U.S. birthed the term simply to justify invasions or interventions anywhere).
- The 1884 Berlin Conference caused the failure of 15 of 20 on the list. Remind me: is Berlin in Germany or the U.S.?
- The U.S. invaded or intervened in 2 or 3 of the 20 (depending whether or not you count Somalia).--Lacarids (talk) 08:06, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
I believe that failed state is an established area of academic debate within International Relations, however when the term crosses from academic to mainstream media confusion arises. It seems to me that we need to be clear whether we are talking about the International Relations concept of failed state or whether we are talking about the populist media concept of failed state. My understanding is that the term croosed into populist media as a result of the CIA funded work in this area (see the taskforce website detailed papers are useful in explaining the genesis of the project. Isthisuseful (talk) 11:37, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure that encyclopedic content includes the reproduction of another publisher'slist of failed states. I think that it is much more informative to discuss the term; academic and its crossover into mainstream media. It might be useful to look at the Arab Spring countries as they would come under the "disruption of authoritarian regime" category identified by the CIA taskforce. Isthisuseful (talk) 11:37, 12 February 2012 (UTC)


Lebanon is as much a failed state as Pakistan. Pakistan is on the list because the tribal areas are unadministrable from Islamabad. Likewise, Hezbollah areas are unadministrable from Beirut. These two states should (for purposes of analysis) rationally be split into two states, as de facto they already are. -- 14:23, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Pakistan.... A failed state???[edit]

Well as far as i can remember in 1999 or something CIA declared that pakistan will become a failed state by 2015. But now many other agencies say that by 2015 Pakistan will have a significant role in world economy by 2015. Isnt that funny!.......these agencies make a laughing stock of themselves. --Mm11 10:03, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Sure with all these terrorist camps and terrorist incidents, Pakistan will emerge as a top consumer of small arms thus playing a significant role in the world economy. There is nothing, absolutely nothing funny certainly not about any assertion of Pakistani leadership in any domain. We salute Pakistani contributions to the world economy (IMF has had a chance to function) and in general, Pakistani contributions to modern civilization. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:28, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

New list[edit]

Anyone seen this [1] ? If true that means there is a new list. Anyone got an update? Tazz 18:23, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

NPOV: Please bracket disputes[edit]

That the term "failed state" exists as a term in political and economic discussion, and has a generally agreed-upon meaning appears to be conceded, and the article should reflect this. At the same time, there also seems to be a broad level of dispute as to what conditions must exist for a state to be considered "failed". Furthermore, there is without any doubt a broad level of disagreement as to which states are presently "failed". Can we please focus on identifying those things that authorities agree upon and present them as such, and then presenting the disagreements as such as well? As it stands, this article has serious problems, and seems more intent on pressing various pet political theories as to what states may or may not be failed instead of discussing an abstract politicoeconomic concept. I have made some improvements, but I think considerable further attention is required. Chromaticity 14:08, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

"Change in Rank" in Failed States List is very confusing[edit]

The parenthesized "change in rank since last year" is very confusing! For example, Chad is listed in 2007 as:

5. Chad (+1)

... which naturally would lead the reader to believe that Chad was in position #4 in 2006 (since last year's rank +1 = this year's rank). But, the direction of the change is actually opposite! Chad was in fact in position #6 in 2006. Presumably the + sign is used to indicate "increasing failure." I believe this is unnecessarily confusing, and the opposite sign should be listed, with an additional explanatory note about the list for clarification. What do you think? MOXFYRE (contrib) 19:24, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Dude, have you never seen a Top 40? +1 means up one position in the ranks since last time. As it ought. (Though one could argue about the concept of a "most failed" list.) (talk) 14:55, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

It makes sense to me. The Human Development Index is the same way; + denotes increased standard of living, - decreased. It doesn't really matter though. You have to be run by a socialist government to be considered "sustainable." The whole rating system is skewed, unrealistic, and ridiculous. A better source should be found to rank nations in the world that isn't a popularity contest. XIDE 13:43, 2 October 2007 (UTC)


Why Spain was included as a moderate failed state ? Belem tower 08:37, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Wrong scale[edit]

  • Because the scale used in the graphic is from Fund for Peace. If you click on "The Map" at Failed State Index page at, it lists both the United States and Spain, as well as several others listed as "Moderate" at Fund for Peace, as "Stable". uses a five-grade scale, whereas Fund for Peace uses a four-grade scale. For NPOV purposes we might be better off using the scale. Fund for Peace is a source with an agenda, whereas Foreign Policy magazine is a more neutral informative source. --Kitch (Talk : Contrib) 13:22, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

North Korea's central government weak?!?[edit]

Either the definition in our lead ("A failed state is a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory.") needs re-working or North Korea needs excluding from the list since the dictator's control of the DPRK's people is well-nigh total! Alice.S 00:01, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Who made up those definitions anyways? It looks like original research and should be deleted completely. (talk) 12:31, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Like I said below, I think if we're going to have an article on this topic we really need to discuss how conflicted the literature on the topic is. It's defined several different ways and elements of all of those definitions, together with who defined them, should be there. Orderinchaos 16:37, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Intentional perversion?[edit]

I have today attempted to correct some (intentional?) perversion of the tables with regard to both Pakistan and India. I did this by first reverting to an old revision of our article, as edited by User:Spitzl at 12:01, 6 October 2007. I then attempted to add conscientious edits made by various editors since that date. However, It may differ significantly from what is correct according to the sources and I would request that others check my work. If IP's wish to make changes in the tables perhaps they would care to discuss them here first, lest I mistakenly revert them as vandals? Alice.S 22:56, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Questionable list[edit]

Canada and Belgium - both candidates for breaking apart due to ethnic/language barriers - both best rating. Germany - not best rating although all indicators are negative. WTF? This list is very questionable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:56, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

The whole list is questionable. India with far better democratic credentials as against US with a President who first came to power illegally by using political judges are ranked seperatly. As is India and its failed neighbours like Pakistan and Bangladesh?. Under what reasoning is India at the same level as Pakistan, Bangladesh and CIS? Obviously the list is a western wish list. Canada, and whole of Europistan is on the verge of splits and trouble as soon as Islam gains the upper hand. That is NOT taken int consideration. Iverall a questionable article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:17, 11 June 2008 (UTC)


The article mentions some guy called Webber but forgets to mention who this Webber is? It doesn't even say what they actually are meant to have said... EAi (talk) 01:09, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

The article Monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, linked from this one, talks about Max Weber and his lecture Politics as a Vocation. Presumably this is the same Weber, but I'm not sure. (talk) 00:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree, when the surname Weber is used in the beginning of this page it is unclear exactly who is being referenced and why. Justin (talk) 02:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

It looks like edits of 21 May and 3 July 2008 have fixed this; the first one confirms it's the same "Politics as a Vocation" Max Weber and the second links directly to the entry on him. (talk) 06:16, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Weber's views on the monopoly of the use of force is similar to the views of Thomas Hobbes, 17th century, who pointed out that in the absence of a strong government, life is 'nasty, brutish and short'. Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are examples of Hobbes analysis. DavidJErskine (talk) 07:45, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

Question re emphasis[edit]

I am of the opinion that the Fund for Peace's Failed States Index is given far too much prominence in this article, and that a summary of the literature on failed states would actually be more useful to a reader of Wikipedia. I did an assignment a few weeks ago on this topic and found a few useful references which I have as PDFs. I quote from Stewart (2007), p.647: "The indicators scholars have proposed for state failure tend to be idiosyncratic. Robert Rotberg (2003:5-9) (my note: When States Fail: Causes and Consequences), for example, notes a dozen-odd characteristics of failing states [...] Meanwhile, the annual Failed States Index published by the Fund for Peace (2006) and published in Foreign Policy magazine offers a competing set of indicators that overlap only imperfectly with Rotberg's." This suggests to me that every man has their own measure, although they may agree on the extremes. Orderinchaos 16:29, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Oh, yeah - and a symposium from the Harvard International Review (Winter 2008) entitled "Addressing Collapse: An International Responsibility?" (p.40-73) contains a string of short articles by various academics and others on the topic. While they don't cite their own sources, they could be useful for overviewing the topic. Orderinchaos 16:31, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Remote Indigenous Australia 'Failed state-within-a-state'[edit]

I have just added the above paragraph, and I have noted all the horrified discussion above when developed nations are discussed under the rubric of failed states. In the case of Australia the argument is that conditions in some Indigenous communities in remote areas are akin to those of a failed state, nobody is putting their name to saying that the nation of Australia is a failed state. It is a referenced argument, I would encourage anyone to review the situation before laughing. If you can't be bothered to look at the references but still query how it is possible to have a state within a state - well, basically, Australia is a nation of only 20 million people covering 7.7 million square kilometres - making it the the 3rd least dense nation-state on earth, but it has a much more urbanised population and is supposedly a 'developed' nation (unlike the only less dense coutries - Namibia and Mongolia). So when people say "remote Australia", we mean really remote - like several days' or a week's drive (if you own a functioning car which most people on these communities don't) to the nearest city 'remote', not just out-of-mobile-phone-range-remote so think about that and you can imagine how it can be that certain geographic areas of Australia can exhibit indicators of vulnerability that other parts do not.

Failed state conditions apply when the apparatus of statehood (government) fails to bring advantage to its citizens and in fact disdvantages them, and that is what (I believe it is argued) has happened to remote Indigenous Australia. Anyway, I put this out there and I think it is a credible addition. SeventhHell (talk) 05:25, 17 October 2008 (UTC)"

Completely disagree. I am Australian, and remote communities of First Australians are governed, and rec~eive welfare money regular as clockwork. Conditions in these reserves are poor, mainly becuase of alcohol and a demoralised state of mind, but these reserves are still a long way from being failed states within a functioning state. I can not see inhabitants of these remote reserves preferring Somalia or the Congo over Australia. ~~

Introductory Definition[edit]

Yes, I have reworked the definition in the lead with nil consultation. The most recent definition, that it "is a term of imprecise defintion", begged the question of why it warrants an encyclopaedic article at all. There are precise qualitative definitions of a failing state which I think would gain consensus, however the point at which a state is considered 'failed', the ranking and quantitative assessment is the source of controversy. I have noted relevant discussions above, and invite further discussion to work towards a better article. For users who think a non-profit organisation promoting peace is not impartial I suggest they note other defintions/sources to the extent that they vary from Fund for Peace's, (e.g. those of Robert Rotberg in When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (2003) - I don't have access to that source). I think controversy will boil down to consensus on the basic qualitative characteristics of state failure, but I doubt whether consensus will be attained on the quantitative assessment scale and ranking system, given the many national and political loyalties of Wikipedia users. This of course begs the question of why the article isn't moved to "Failing state" - I will leave that for now, but put it out for discussion. Anyone wishing to rework is of course more than welcome, I don't know chapter and verse of every Wikipedia policy and procedure. Many thanks SeventhHell (talk) 00:26, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

NB: I haven't touched the 'Definition' section. Yet. SeventhHell (talk) 02:39, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I've had some issues with the current state of the article for a while, as an Australian-based student in politics. Rotberg's view is controversial (some might argue US-centric) but definitely in the mainstream of thought on the topic. Rotberg, R. I. (2002). “The new nature of nation state failure.” The Washington Quarterly (Summer 2002) 25(3), pp.85-96 provides an appropriate summary of his general view, if you want a PDF copy for reference purposes and don't have access to an academic search engine, feel free to email me. I looked at the book in a library for an assignment and could probably scan those pages as PDF as well. I have a few other good articles including a Harvard symposium containing about 9 articles from the Harvard International Review (Winter 2008), as well as Patrick, Stewart (2007) ‘‘Failed’’ States and Global Security: Empirical Questions and Policy Dilemmas. International Studies Review (2007) 9, 644–662 - which provides a counterpoint to Rotberg - etc which are helpful in defining it. Some other articles discuss its application to particular situations in more detail. This article's been quite a low priority for me personally due to time commitments but I'm happy to help anyone willing to put in the time. Orderinchaos 03:49, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for that, I have no access to an academic article library, but that Rotberg article popped straight up in a google search, it is fantastic (haven't found the Stewart article). My opinion now is that 'State Failure' is the phenomenon waranting a Wikipedia article; that state failure is a continuum - from collapsed to failed to failing through endemically weak to weak to strong states - and that this article should be moved to State Failure and fettled. Having said that I too am not about to invest the time. Even a State Failure article is going to have porous and disputed definitions of statehood, nationality and borders which may be fatal to a quality article, but which might open up fascinating more general ideas. For now I now beat a tactical retreat. Thanks again, SeventhHell (talk) 03:00, 22 November 2008 (UTC)


After looking at this list, I am curious why Mexico is not listed as a state in danger of failing. As it stands Mexico fits two of the major categories for being considered one. 1. Drug gangs and organized crime rings control 15% of the country, and smaller parts are controlled by the EZLN, effectively meaning the Mexican government does'nt/is'nt able to control a considerable portion of its own territory. 2. The government can not perform the basic security/justice/police functions in many areas, and in many cases can not even guarantee the protection of its own citizens.

-IkonicDeath —Preceding undated comment was added at 02:39, 7 December 2008 (UTC).
Note that this article samples particular surveys (Fund for Peace etc) and doesn't actually have its own objective definition - at least partly due to Wikipedia's "no original research" policy. Therefore, what they list and in what order is what is being published here. I think you make a fair point, though. Orderinchaos 01:11, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
If we include Mexico, then we would include virtually all Latin America since Mexico ranks higher in Human development Index than most countries in the region (not no mention all the so-called G20 developing nations. What happens here is that you guys are very prone to buy what the US media sells in the marketplace. Where the heck is the source that gangs and organised crime controls 15% of the country? Even 1% seems exagerated. These gangs are busy making business rather than trying to control parts of the country, this is something they don't give a crap about. Even the EZLN's main goal has anything to do with "controlling". They are just claiming what belongs to them. Please don't use wikipedia for your personal opinions on other people's countries.--Scandza (talk) 14:19, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  • The idea that Mexico is in any danger of becoming a failed state stems from blatant exaggeration and fear mongering by the popular U.S. Media such as CNN and Fox. It all began with the JOE 2008 report which you can read yourselves here: [2]. On page 36 it states: "In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico... The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone." Here it is only speaking of the mere possibility and even state at first that it is not very likely. The Media blew this one paragraph way out of proportions and into complete absurdity when many dishonest reporters like Lou Dobbs would come on television and speak of Mexico as if it was already a failed state somewhere in the same proportions as Somalia or Haiti. Ocelotl10293 (talk) 02:25, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

The Australian section[edit]

I removed it as it was sourced not to the academic literature but to a left-wing opinion piece and a publication by an activist organisation, neither of which meet our reliable source guidelines. I personally agree with the point they're trying to make, and have a lot of respect for Project Safecom's work, but in constructing an encyclopaedic work, one must approach it with a neutral point of view. The point made about the Australian Aboriginal population is actually not terribly particular to Australia - native or minority ethnic peoples in many first world countries live in appalling conditions and low standards of public services which would be comparable to those in third world countries. Such occurs in, for example, parts of France, England, the United States, Canada, etc. Orderinchaos 01:14, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Could we point out that the Fund for Peace model has problems?[edit]

I noticed a lot of people pointing out issues with the Fund for Peace failed-states index above (I think the point about Mexico is the strongest of all of these). Could we add a disclaimer to the effect that "this list indicates that the Fund for Peace calls this country a failed state, but does not guarantee that it actually is a failed state"? (And that this model breaks down when applied very much earlier than 2005?) As mentioned above, Fund for Peace has an agenda (though I don't know what, personally), and some of their criteria suggest that any country on a war footing, or having fought -- or especially lost -- a recent war, is a failed state automatically: as one salient example, Georgia's situation is not exactly optimal right now, but I wouldn't call them worse off than Mexico and Libya. In fact, perhaps it would be better to just move this section to a "See Also," rather than have it in the main article on failed states? The Fund for Peace index is a question of modern geopolitics, while the theory of what comprises a failed state is more Weberian, more concerned with the theory of history. ExOttoyuhr (talk) 20:36, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

I don't think they have an "agenda", moreso "limitations". When you don't have people on the field and are simply trying to assess against certain criteria (many of which may not necessarily indicate a "failed state" and just a "persistently challenging situation that would occur anyway"), you run into all sorts of bother, and of course not all countries are easily comparable for historical or other reasons. For example Australia where I live is clearly a nation in the conventional sense, it was established as one, its people subscribe to it as an entity. But what about Spain? It historically was a collection of different entities, some of which still maintain their separateness and at least a couple who resort to armed means. Does that mean Spain is any less of a nation than Australia? I think the article should really be about the concept of a failed state, with the Fund for Peace rankings moved to a different article. (I know I've said some of this stuff before but with my background studies and my commitment to several other parts of the project, I haven't the time to effect changes myself although I can certainly assist anyone who does - I have a few good journal articles which I can email people if they are interested) Orderinchaos 07:57, 11 March 2009 (UTC)


Economic records point to the possibility of Iceland becoming a failed state. If it isn't already.

And so would the Seychelles —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:36, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Worth noting in the Seychelles that RAMSI is working to fix that problem. PlasticFork (talk) 17:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Are the P.I.I.G.S. nations a list of failed states?![edit]

Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain are in a compleat ecanomic melt down. The U.K., Latvia, Iceland, Russia, Belgium, the Ukraine and Romania are also in fiscal chaos, various forms of financial meltdown, heavily in det to other countries and/or either or both the IMF and EBC, saw stocks fall sharply during the beginning of the credit crunch and may end up with P.I.I.G.S. status soon. Greece, Latvia and Iceland are also broke!-- (talk) 13:16, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

No, PIIGS or GIPSI nations are a long way from being failed states. Governments rule thse countries, and the public services and administration is merely unsatisfactory. Greeks, for example, would prefer Greece to Somalia or the Dem Rep of the Congo. DavidJErskine (talk) 07:45, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

[[3]] [[4]] [[5]] [[6]] [[7]] [[8]] [[9]] [[10]] [[11]] [[12]] [[13]] -- (talk) 13:16, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

The link worked well now[edit]

The link worked well now...Svr014 (talk) 16:05, 3 June 2009 (UTC) Chicagoland, Illinois, USA.

Updated animation[edit]


File:Failed-states-index-loop.gif needs to be updated to include 2008 and 2009. -- Beland (talk) 22:54, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Cool map!

-- (talk) 13:02, 16 April 2010 (UTC)



The animation also needs to be updated for 2010. いただき (talk) 22:52, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

puerto rico[edit]

i think PR s/b added to the list. its a badly run pit and there is often no running water. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:17, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

This is not a place to discuss which state should be in the list. The Failed states list is not maintained by Wikipedia, but by the Fund for Peace. If You think the list is not correct, go to their web site and ask them. Vanjagenije (talk) 09:33, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

somalia government controls which part ofthe country?[edit]

At Talk:Somalia, there is a discussion on whether being a failed state should be in the article. The source of the image caption on somalia (somalia controls only the blue part on the map) is very relevant to that discussion. As it is updated almost monthly (as of december 2010 now), does anyone have a source for the caption statements? Tnx! L.tak (talk) 22:48, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

reference 19[edit]

no thing in this link!--نسر برلين (talk) 18:32, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

outdated photos[edit]

please add the photo for 2011 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Danugore (talkcontribs) 11:54, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Confusing animation[edit]

The image showing status by year is confusing and should probably be limited to the current year or separated out into individual graphics/gallery. -- samj inout 08:03, 21 December 2011 (UTC)


Why no data on Greenland? Do they fall under Denmark for the purpose of this analysis? If so, they should have the same color as Denmark. I find it hard to believe that a staunch advocate of transparency--such as Greenland--would "hide" their data for something like this. --Lacarids (talk) 08:21, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

This kind of thing goes two ways. Maybe the data of Greenland were not accepted because non souvereign states are not accepted. But giving them "by default" the colour of the main country seems also wrong.... Maybe we should dig into the source articles to see if some info can be found... L.tak (talk) 10:34, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Content to be integrated into the article[edit]

The following content was floating at the top of the article, creating confusion and disorder. I removed it and moved it here.

Failed State is a new term that has been created to bring together a number of factors affecting nation states including revolutionary wars, ethnic wars, genocides, and disruptive regime changes such as disruption of authoritarian regimes and termination of democratic regimes. <> The term failed state became used in political commentary from the mid 1990s onwards. <> The early 1990s CIA State Failure Task Force <> produced detailed working papers report under contract through academics from Yale, California and Maryland university. <>

Any useful information and references from this should be re-integrated into the article; I don't have time at the moment to do this myself. (talk) 20:50, 15 February 2012 (UTC)


Brilliant mind or not, the definiton of "failed state" - as given here, seems to describe ANYTHING except a 1984 totalitarianism w gross overkill in the secret police department.

Did Chomsky make a mistake? Or can we do better here? 20:15, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Nope, Chomsky was demonstrating how loosely you can interpret the US definition of a failed state. PlasticFork (talk) 17:51, 11 February 2010 (UTC)


Iran? Ha. Ha. Ha. СЛУЖБА (talk) 12:24, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

NPOV flag NOV12[edit]

This is based on the largely ignored "Failed State Index" and presented as fact. In its current form the article represents the result of a fundamentally flawed study, and needs to be completely rewritten. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:17, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

All conditions for failed state have been reached.

- Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein - erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions - an inability to provide public services - an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:05, 8 April 2013 (UTC)


Noam Chomsky classified the USA as a failed state.-- (talk) 19:00, 14 August 2015 (UTC)