Issue

Fragile States

The balance of power between strong states was for decades the dominant issue in discussions of international security. But today, it is fragile states that are seen by many as posing potentially greater threats. Weak infrastructures, internal conflict, and lack of economic development provide fertile ground for trafficking, piracy, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disease pandemics, regional tensions, and even genocide.

As a result, there is a growing movement in the international community to find comprehensive ways to promote stronger states, as well as more effective solutions to deal with those that are already on the brink of failure.

In Fragile States, you'll find reporting from around the world—from East Timor to Haiti, from Guinea Bissau to Afghanistan. The reporting demonstrates the dangers weak states pose—and also the international interventions that appear to be making a difference.

Fragile States was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with The Bureau for International Reporting. Support provided by the Stanley Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Fragile States

June 11, 2009

Somaliland: A Land in Limbo

Tristan McConnell, Narayan Mahon

Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, is Africa’s only fully unrecognized country. After breaking away from Somalia and claiming independence in 1991, the Somaliland government, in stark contrast to the failed state of Somalia, has constructed many facets of a functioning, stable state. Somaliland has carried out several Presidential elections and peaceful transfers of power.

May 23, 2009

Guinea-Bissau: West Africa's New Achilles' Heel

Marco Vernaschi

An international network led by Latin American drug cartels and the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah has chosen West Africa, among the poorest and more corrupted corners of the world, as the nexus for illegal trade in cocaine, oil, counterfeit medicines, pirated music and human trafficking. International law enforcement officials...

May 03, 2009

Afghanistan: Civilians Under Siege

Jason Motlagh

In 2008, there were over 2,100 civilians casualties across Afghanistan. US airstrikes accounted for 552 deaths, up more than 70% compared to the year before. Militants were responsible for more than half the overall total. The bitter truth is that most of these incidents could be avoided. And yet...

April 01, 2009

Human Terrain: The New Counterinsurgency?

Vanessa M. Gezari

Since 2007, an experimental Pentagon program has been sending teams of civilian anthropologists and other social scientists into the hardest-fought regions of Iraq and Afghanistan to pursue a mission that's both deeply controversial and increasingly important to U.S. military strategy.

Social scientists work within frontline combat units...

August 08, 2008

Yemen: In a Fragile State

Ginny Hill

The poorest nation in the Arab world struggles with high population growth, 40% unemployment and a persistent flow of refugees from Somalia. In the next decade, its 22 million citizens will compete for increasingly scarce water supplies, as aquifers are drilled, pumped and drained unsustainably.

This is...

July 01, 2008

Sudan: The Forgotten North

Heba Aly

Northern Sudan is a region that has largely been ignored, eclipsed by rebellion in Darfur and a civil war in the south that lasted two decades. But in villages along the Nile in the Nubian desert, far from the conflicts in other parts of the country, Sudanese people are...

Elections Do Not Mean Democracy

Elections are not a bad thing. But for the sake of our own commitment to honesty, let us not deceive ourselves into believing that Jordan is democratizing.