The term failed state is often used by political commentators and journalists to describe a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. In order to make this definition more precise, the following attributes, proposed by the Fund for Peace, are often used to characterize a failed state:
- loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein,
- erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions,
- an inability to provide public services, and
- an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
Often a failed nation is characterized by social, political, and/or economic failure.
Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
The level of government control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities.Furthermore, the declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and, when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences…