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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Iraq rises up failed states index
Iraqi Shia protest in the capital, Baghdad (file image from 15/06/2007)
Iraq had been fourth in the 2006 Failed States Index
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.

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.

1. Sudan
2. Iraq
3. Somalia
4. Zimbabwe
5. Chad
6. Ivory Coast
7. D.R. Congo
8. Afghanistan
9. Guinea
10. Central African Republic

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".

A woman farmer near Bikita, Zimbabwe (file image from 02/04/2007)
Zimbabwe's failing economy dragged it higher in the index

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.

Map: Global map of failed states
Countries listed as 'critical':
1. Iraq
2. Afghanistan
3. Pakistan
4. N Korea
5. Bangladesh
6. Burma
7. Chad
8. Sudan
9. Guinea
10. Ivory Coast
11. Nigeria
12. Central African Republic
13. Ethiopia
14. Somalia
15. DR Congo
16. Uganda
17. Burundi
18. Zimbabwe
*Countries not numbered in order of index rank*

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

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