The concepts of state failure and collapse are now, than ever before, extremely important in the global arena. The realization that there exists a link between state failure and terrorism has been a major factor in creating awareness of the need to maintain secure states and prevent state failure.1
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Rotberg posits that, ‘nation states have the responsibility of delivering positive political good to its citizens…’2 Specifically, nation states play the role of mediation between challenges and constraints of international communities with their own internal social, political and economic realities, besides organizing the interests of its people in furtherance of national values and goals3
Accordingly, states that fall short in these endeavors due to weaknesses, distress, collapse or failure, face diminished legitimacy in the citizens’ eyes and are viewed as failed states. Based on certain characteristics, Somali can be classified as a failed state.
Somalia is listed in position one in the failed states Index 2011.4 Among the parameters used in identifying state failure include demographic pressures, refugees and IDPs, group grievance, human flight, poverty and decline, uneven development, public services, government legitimacy, and human rights and rule of law.5
Other indicators of failed states, according to the index are factionalized elites and external intervention6. In the hierarchy of political goods, human security is a core claim that citizens make upon the state, and it is at heart of the social contract between the nation and its people7.
It is not surprising that the inability of a state to provide security is regarded as the first major indicator of state failure. Somali has experienced years of internal conflicts manifested in fighting between various rival warlords8. Lawlessness and clan warfare, since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991, has seen Somali to enjoy little peace indicating inability of government to provide security to its citizens9.
Among the tenets of security, there are prevention of cross-border invasions and infiltrations, and loss of territory10. The loss of northern Somali leading to the formation of the relatively peaceful, but internationally unrecognized Somaliland is indication of failure to protect the state territory and further indication of state failure.
Violence in Somali has permeated the society fiber for over two decades since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 199111. Enduring violence and not absolute intensity of violence is used to identify state failure.12 In these years, Somalia has faced enduring violence with most of the violence with roots in ethnic, linguistic and religious enmity.
High crime rates and anarchy with warlords controlling great swathes of Somali territory are further indicators of the failure of Somali state.
In describing failed states, Rotberg asserts that, ‘failed states are deeply conflicted, contested bitterly by warring factions, tense and dangerous…’13This description perfectly depicts the situation in Somalia.
From the warring clans, continuous fighting between warlords, to Islamic militias that pledge allegiance to the Al-Qaida terrorist organization, Somalia is a haven of conflicts. This has made Somalia a dangerous place even for its citizens. Such high levels of lawlessness have contributed to the rise in piracy menace in international waters.
Other manifestations of state failure, that are also evident in Somaliland, include inability of state to adequately provide other political goods such as medical care, schools and education, physical infrastructures, channels of commerce, communication infrastructure, civil society and so on, which are also lacking in Somalia14.
BBC Monitoring, ‘Somalia profile’, British Broadcasting Corporation, 2011, retrieved <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094503>
The Fund for Peace. Failed State Index, 2011.
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Rotberg, R I, ‘Failed States, Collapsed States, Weak States: Causes and Indicators’ in Walter, S, Clarke, Gosende, Robert. (ed.), State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror’ Brookings Institution Press, Washington, 2003, pp 1-25.
1 R Rotberg, State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror, Brookings institution press, Washington, 2003, p. 1
2 Rotberg 2
3 BBC monitoring, Somalia profile British Broadcasting Corporation, 2011.
4 The Fund for Peace, Failed States Index, 2011
5 The Fund for Peace
6 The Fund for Peace
7 Rotberg 3
8 BBC monitoring
9 BBC monitoring
10 Rotberg 3
11 BBC monitoring
12 Rotberg 5
13 Rotberg, p. 5
14 Rotberg, p. 6