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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Weakest states pose biggest threat to world’s superpowers

The Brookings Institution, a leading research center in the USA, has unveiled a new interesting project – to survey the state weakness in the developing world. Although researchers have discovered nothing new, they have conducted extensive work, which provides a credible tool for analyzing and understanding the general situation in the world’s poorest countries.

With the beginning of the new century researchers and political leaders started raising the issue of failed states to justify the so-called humanitarian intervention to improve the situation in those states. But like many other terms in modern politics, this one is much spoken of, but there is no clear definition of it. Brookings researchers Susan Rice and Stewart Patrick suggested readers should look through common definitions and ratings of weak and failed states.

They themselves offer the following definition: “Failed states are those lacking possibilities or desire to perform four major management duties: to provide conditions for stable and fair economic growth; to create and develop legitimate and responsible political institutions; to defend the population from violent conflicts and to control the territory; to meet the population’s major requirements.” Interestingly enough, the authors note that it is impermissible to associate all-mighty political machinery (for example, in North Korea) with prosperous states.

Using this definition the institution’s researchers formed four corresponding groups of criteria with five indicators each. This system has a definite plus, but also a minus typical of such reports. The advantage is that the short report incorporated other ratings of the World Bank, IMF, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), research departments of the Economist, the Freedom House and other research institutions. Thus the disadvantage is that the data collected by other organizations may be subjective.

But on the whole, the picture is rather objective: Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and, surprisingly enough, Burundi head the list. 141 states were assessed (apart from the most developed ones). Among Russian neighbours, former Soviet republics, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (35th and 36th places respectively), have poor results (but not the worst ones, North Korea, Cameroon, Nigeria and Pakistan rank lower). Cambodia ranked 34th and Mauritania – 37th. Tajikistan took the 42nd place (lower than East Timor, but higher than Swaziland). Russia ranked 65th because of its poor political regime and insufficient security for its citizens. Bad results in other areas do not change the rating drastically: North Korea has economic problems (15th place), Burma suffers political problems (17th place), Turkmenistan is the fourth in the group of political criteria.

This rating only confirms acute problems in modern international relations. The list of failed states that can cause an international crisis was known long ago. The international community (the Brookings Institution appeals to Washington first of all) should give these countries their complete attention successively and enduringly.

Translated by Julia Bulygina