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Jun-23-2008 11:11printcomments

Foreign Policy Announces 2008 Failed States Index

Somalia Ranked Most Unstable Country in the World; Israel Is Now Among the 60 Most Vulnerable States

Children in Somalia
Children in Somalia
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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - For the first time, Somalia has become the most unstable country in the world, according to the 2008 Failed States Index, and Israel has fallen into the ranks of the 60 weakest states. The fourth annual report, produced by FOREIGN POLICY magazine and the Fund for Peace, ranks the world’s most vulnerable states and is published in FOREIGN POLICY’s July/August 2008 issue.

For a complete ranking of all 177 countries, methodology, data sets, frequently asked questions, and a listing of experts available to comment, visit and

This year, Somalia claims the unenviable distinction of being the country most at risk of failure. Its anarchic political environment, lack of security, and the displacement of 700,000 Somalis from the capital due to fighting suggest it has already failed. This year, Somalia registered eight of the worst scores among the index’s 12 social, economic, political, and military indicators.

Israel (58th) has fallen into the ranks of the world’s 60 most vulnerable states for the first time. Its score, which considers conditions in the West Bank, is due to deteriorating security in the West Bank, the country’s sharp economic disparities, political stalemates, ongoing violence, and its failure to fully integrate its Arab minority.

Sudan, with its continuing crisis in Darfur, ranks as the second most unstable country, followed closely by Zimbabwe, where the country’s out-of-control inflation and 80 percent unemployment led to the country’s slide. This month’s election dispute and ensuing violence have further cast the country’s future in doubt. According to this year’s index, seven of the top 10 most unstable countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, four of them in the top five.

The surge in Iraq (5th), last year’s second most unstable country, was a key factor in the country’s performance this year. And though Iraq’s score improved slightly, its gains do not reflect long-term, fundamental changes. The desperate predicament of 4 million refugees at home and abroad, the abysmal state of public services, and the discord among sectarian factions have shown no real improvement. The progress that has occurred is dependent on short-term, tenuous factors that could unravel at any time.

Bangladesh (12th) suffered the most drastic decline in the past year. A feuding, deadlocked government, the imposition of emergency rule last year, and the devastation wrought by a cyclone last November that left 1.5 million people homeless combined to reverse much of the country’s recent economic progress.

The 2008 Failed States Index ranks 177 states according to 12 social, economic, political, and military indicators based on data from more than 30,000 publicly available sources. A listing of the 60 most vulnerable countries is featured in the July/August 2008 issue of FOREIGN POLICY. For a complete ranking of all 177 countries, methodology, data sets, frequently asked questions, and a listing of experts available to comment, visit and

About the Fund for Peace

The Fund for Peace (FfP) is one of the world’s leading institutions developing creative strategies to prevent and resolve conflict. An independent research and educational organization, it has spent the past 10 years pioneering new tools for decision makers. FfP’s focus is on developing early warning and performance measures; promoting transparency and accountability among governments, the private sector, and nonstate actors; limiting weapons proliferation; and protecting civilians caught in conflict. Its newest tool, CAST Premium, available at, provides analysts with resources for undertaking their own conflict assessments. The Fund for Peace’s work on the Failed States Index is supported by the Ploughshares Fund.


Founded in 1970, FOREIGN POLICY is the premier, award-winning magazine of global politics, economics, and ideas. Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,, in Washington, D.C., FP is the winner of the 2007 and 2003 National Magazine Award for General Excellence and was a finalist in 2008, 2006, and 2005. The magazine’s readers include some of the most influential leaders in business, government, and other professional arenas throughout the United States and more than 160 other countries. In addition to its flagship English-language edition and award-winning Web site,, FP is also published in Arabic, Bulgarian, French, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish editions.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.