Countries where Arab Spring protests once offered hope of a better future—such as Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia—all rated significantly worse compared to a year prior in the annual Failed State Index (FSI) rankings published Monday by the Washington D.C.-based Fund for Peace.
Libya’s decline was the “most remarkable” and set a new record for a one-year increase in index score, rising 16.2 points, where the higher the score the less stable the state. The previous record holder was Lebanon between 2006 and 2007, which rose by 11.9 points because of the war with Israel.
Fund for Peace notes that Libya’s ranking was affected by the civil war, but the country rebounded somewhat by the end of the year after Gen. Moammar Gadhafi was killed and the National Transitional Council took over. Otherwise the change would have been worse.
The FSI ranks 178 countries using 12 social, economic, and political indicators, plus 100 sub-indicators, of factors that put pressure on the state. Considered are things like uneven development, human rights, social group grievances, number of refugees or internally displaced persons, and external intervention. A high score indicates high pressure on the state, translating to a higher risk of instability. Countries are also ranked with the least stable states topping the ranking.
Probably the biggest surprise in the declined state category was Japan, rising 12.5 points in the index and setting the record as the FSI’s second biggest change in its eight years of reporting.
Despite having one of the highest human development indexes in the world and the world’s third highest nominal gross domestic product, Japan’s poor showing was due to chaos wrought by the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Japan was forced to declare a state of emergency in the northeast as hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, not to mention the loss of life and the economic hardship. The calamity has become the most costly natural disaster in history, ringing in at about $200 billion.
“Japan’s near-record worsening on the FSI demonstrates how susceptible even the most stable of nations are to sudden shocks,” Fund for Peace said.
Somalia, Congo, and Sudan were dubbed the top three failed states. Without a central government since 1991, and suffering from terrorism, militant insurgency, and piracy, Somalia has held the dubious honor of being the most unstable country for four in years in a row.
Greece also declined amid its worsening economic crisis as the country’s leadership has struggled to secure a bailout from the eurozone. Greece fared poorly for factors such as lowered confidence in the state, and the government’s weakened ability to provide public services.
Most of the top 20 countries in the ranking are primarily in Africa, but Afghanistan and Iraq—two states where there’s been American military intervention—as well as Haiti, still reeling from its devastating earthquake over two years ago, also ranked high on the list.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway were considered the world’s most stable along with Switzerland.
The United States lost some ground in 2011, and now ranks 159th out of 177 states, one spot better than the U.K., but not considered as stable as France and Germany, which ranked 162nd and 164th respectively.
The Fund for Peace says that a country with strong and stable government institutions based on the rule of law and democracy is considered stable.
The Fund for Peace compiles its index drawing on statistics compiled from various sources including the United Nations and World Bank, plus non-governmental organizations such as Freedom House and Transparency International, and commercial sources like The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.