Foreign Policy Magazine and the Fund for Peace released their annual Failed States Index (FSI) for 2013 on June 24. The FSI has come under fire from critics like Elliot Ross and Claire Leigh for focusing “exclusively on the most negative aspects of a state’s performance” and for ranking “states in a way that suggests they are in any way comparable.” While many African states are indeed fragile, the FSI’s preference for the label “failed states” implies a false permanence of condition rightly criticized by scholars and researchers as arbitrary and sensationalist.
The FSI and the corresponding “Postcards from Hell” paint most of Africa with a damning red of failure and chaos. In staying true to its “failed” theme, the index chooses to ignore positive developments being made in many African countries and the differing levels of security within them. Furthermore, Foreign Policy fails to admit how its “failed states” labeling turns away private foreign investment and undermines a country’s ability to transform itself. Here are some facts the Index will not tell you about the seven African countries designated in 2013 as among the world’s “most failed” states.