Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg

Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg
Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg © Gernot Keller, 2007
Blinkered Justice articles also appear on CrimeTalk and Government In The Lab

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Wednesday ? - “Failed state”

A quick introduction into the Wednesday ?

I propose using the Wednesday ? on a trial basis over the next few weeks. The purpose of it, unlike Questioning The Headlines, is to look at specific words and/or phrases that are used, mainly by those in power, as a means of short-cutting any criticism or independent thought.

I want to highlight these words and phrases, and promote public debate. This is where you come in. It would be fantastic if you could post your own thoughts, so that we can de-construct some of the (inherent?) assumptions contained within them.

“Failed state”

Last week's meeting on Somalia looked at the options available to the international community, in their endeavours to help the people of this conflict-ridden nation. Somalia has been described as the “world's most failed state”.

The Fund For Peace (FFP) produces an annual index that ranks states in terms of their “failures”. FFP do not provide a definition of what constitutes a “failed state”, but list 12 indicators that they believe make up state failure.

A “failed state” is thought of one that has lost control of their geo-political sphere, unable to provide its citizens with the security (welfare, and law and order) that they need nationally and internationally.

Assumptions of the “failed state”

A “failed state” does not necessarily imply that it was once successful. The FFP index demonstrates that failure is relative to other states. The assumption here is that a state, much like an individual, is responsible for its plight. Is it?

Little is made of any outside influence that may have contributed to a state's ability to provide for its citizens. Outside influences may be other nation states meddling in the socio-political dynamic, or multi-national corporations using their economic resources to profit from the political status quo.

According to the FFP index, 14/20 of the most failing states are African. Many are former colonies, whose borders were (re)-drawn prior to independence by their former masters, who failed to take into adequate account the ethnic and tribal fissures that were already present. Consequently, localism has to rule in some areas, as the state can not.

Failed States Index 2005-2010
“Failed state”?

Whilst the FFP index ranks 177 countries in terms of their relative failures, at what point, and who decides, which nation is officially a failed state? For instance, North Korea is ranked as the 22nd most “failed state”. Given that North Korea requires food aid to feed to chronically under-nourished, is it a “failed state”?

Geo-politically linked to Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are rated as being more of a “failed state” than North Korea. Equally they are seen as not having failed enough, as both nations contribute to the Amisom forces fighting to oust al-Shabab from Somalia.

I am not disputing the fact that many states, like Somalia, need help. I commend the FFP's reasons for creating this list, but it is unclear as to who chose the factors that influence “failed states”, and how, or why, these particular factors were chosen? Were others available but not used?

For example, the UK government produced its integration strategy last week deferring power, and control, to 'local' experts as a means of strengthening law and order amongst the people it considered “troublesome”. Does this move away from state control to localism indicate that the UK state is moving closer to “failing”?

Around the same time, The Children's Society reported that asylum-seeking and migrant children are left homeless, hungry and destitute. The UK has a duty to protect these children regardless of their immigration status. Is African displacement and famine that far removed from British homelessness and hunger?

When a state does nothing to protect the most vulnerable residing within its borders, despite having the framework and capacity in place to help, is this not a key indicator of state failure? If not, why not? Because that for me is an essence of a “failed state”.

Over to you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment