The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton

Failed States

Living reference work entry


A basic function of any state is the provision of political goods, especially security to persons who reside within their borders. The extent to which states have the capacity to effectively deliver these goods is what determines their statehood in the context of strong, weak, fragile, failed, or collapsed states. This entry pays attention to failed states. Failed states are increasingly becoming a topical issue in comparative and international politics since the September 2011 terrorist attacks in the United States given their implications for global security. The entry is divided into four sections. The first section examines the concept of failed state and the ambiguities associated with it. The second pays attention to the characteristics of failed states, while the third section examines the causes of state failure. The fourth section analyzes the relationship between failed states and global security in the context of terrorism.

The Concept of Failed State



Political goods State capacity Political legitimacy State failure Terrorism Global security 
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Further Reading

  1. Fund for Peace (FFP). (2018). 2018 fragile states index. Washington, DC: Fund for Peace.Google Scholar
  2. Mcloughlin, C., & Idris, I. (2016). Fragile states: Topic guide. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  3. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2016). States of fragility 2016: Understanding violence. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political and Administrative StudiesNational University of LesothoRomaLesotho