Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Iraq Improves On Failed State List, But Still Problems With Scoring


For the last several years Iraq has been in the top ten in the Fund for Peace’s Failed States List. The country has made slight improvements however, and in 2013 was ranked number 11. The Fund for Peace uses a program to go through reports about each country in the world throughout the year, and this software then formulates scores for each nation. Iraq obviously has many problems, but there are some issues with its ranking.

In the 2013 Failed States list Iraq did a little better going from number nine to eleven. In 2012 Iraq had a score of 104.3, while this year that went down to 103.9. These numbers come from twelve indictors that the Fund for Peace uses. Demographic pressures includes diseases, natural disasters, population growth, food security, and Iraq got an 8.3 out of 10. On refugees and internally displaced persons it received an 8.8. Group grievances covers ethnic and sectarian violence on which Iraq received a 10.0 out of 10. Iraq got an 8.3 on human flight, which covers professionals and intellectuals leaving the country. On uneven economic development the country scored an 8.4, followed by a 7.3 on poverty and economic decline, 8.6 on delegitimization of the state, 7.6 on public services, 8.6 on human rights and rule of law, 10.0 on the security forces, 9.6 on factionalized elites, and 8.5 on external intervention. On half of those indicators, demographic pressures, refugees, group grievances, delegitimization of the state, human rights and rule of law, security apparatus, Iraq received a worst score in 2013 than 2012, factionalized elites stayed the same, while the remaining five, human flight, uneven economic development, poverty and economic decline, public services, and external intervention, improved. 

Iraq’s Ranking On Failed States List 2005-2013

2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
Demographic Pressures
8.3
8.0
8.3
8.5
8.7
9.0
9.0
8.9
8.0
Refugees
8.8
8.5
9.0
8.7
8.9
9.0
9.0
8.3
9.4
Group Grievances
10.0
9.7
9.0
9.3
9.7
9.8
10.0
9.8
8.3
Human Flight
8.3
8.6
8.9
9.3
9.1
9.3
9.5
9.1
6.3
Uneven Economic Development
8.4
8.7
9.0
8.8
8.6
8.5
8.5
8.7
8.7
Poverty and Economic Decline
7.3
7.7
7.0
7.6
7.6
7.8
8.0
8.2
8.2
Delegitimization of the State
8.6
8.4
8.6
9.0
9.0
9.4
9.4
8.5
8.8
Public Services
7.6
7.8
8.0
8.4
8.4
8.5
8.5
8.3
8.9
Human Rights and Rule of Law
8.6
8.3
8.6
9.1
9.3
9.6
9.7
9.7
8.2
Security Apparatus
10.0
9.9
9.5
9.5
9.7
9.9
10.0
9.8
8.4
Factionalized Elite
9.6
9.6
9.6
9.6
9.6
9.8
9.8
9.7
10.0
External Intervention
8.5
9.0
9.3
9.5
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0

The Fund for Peace did a better job scoring Iraq this year, but there were still some questions. In 2012, there were several problems including with demographic pressures, group grievances, and economic decline. This year the Fund seemed to be slightly more accurate. Poverty and economic decline got a score of 7.3 in 2013, down from 7.7. That’s likely because of the growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Per capita GDP for instance went from $1,300 in 2004 to $6,400 in 2012. Legitimacy of the state increased from 8.4 to 8.6 probably because of the protest movement in Sunni provinces. There were still some issues however. Demographic pressures went up from 8.0 to 8.3. That covers natural disasters, disease, environment, food and water security, population growth, and mortality. According to the United Nations malnutrition had slight progress, while the others had no noticeable changes. Likewise refugees received a worst score of 8.8 up from 8.5. That was despite the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reporting steady increases in refugee and displaced persons returns since 2010. The most glaring scores however were for group grievances and security apparatus that went from 9.7 to 10.0 and 9.9 to 10.0 respectively. Obviously the insurgency is taking off again, but 10.0 was the score Iraq received when it was still in a civil war in 2007. Yes, violence is up, but it’s nowhere near the level it was at during the sectarian conflict when several thousands were ending up dead each month, the government largely shut down, and daily life was completely disrupted. The Fund for Peace provides no specific data on each individual state, and therefore there was no way to check what sources or information it used for Iraq. Given its past and present problems there’s definitely room to question how they come up with their scores.

Overall, the Failed States List can be a useful tool to identify the most troubled countries around the world, and Iraq is definitely one of those, but its score could be contested. Iraq saw steady improvement with its security situation after the civil war ended in 2008, which opened the door to a dramatic increase in foreign investment and business. This year its seen a reversal with the rebirth of the insurgency. Still from 2008 to 2013 Iraq’s overall score only improved by +6.6 points. The positive changes in the country should have brought about a greater change, which brings up the point about what sources the Fund is using for its rankings. Obviously, any large study such as this will have issues, and Iraq is a perfect example. That means where exactly each country ranks doesn’t really matter. Rather what countries are at the bottom is what the Fund for Peace’s work is good for.

SOURCES

Amlot, Robin, “IMF updates on Iraq economy,” CPI Financial, 5/22/13

Foreign Policy and The Fund For Peace, “Failed States 2013,” Foreign Policy

UNICEF, “The Situation of Children and Women in Iraq,” December 2012

UNHCR Iraq Operation, “Monthly Statistical Update on Return – March 2013,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, May 2013

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