This essay defines the nature of state failure and explains the differences between strong, weak, failing, failed, and collapsed states. The author argues that failing states are a particular worry to the security of the twenty-first century. The role of the European Union and NATO in approaching the issue of failed states, and the deficiencies of EU and NATO policy are noted. Methods of preventing state failure are discussed, along with indicators that provide early warning for failure.Nation-states fail because they no longer deliver positive political goods to their people. Their governments lose legitimacy and, in the eyes and hearts of a growing plurality of its citizens, the nation-state itself becomes illegitimate. These kinds of states – failed states and collapsed states (an extreme form) – are proliferating in number and posing larger and larger challenges to world order. They constitute security threats because of the disorder and non-state actors which they harbor. They threaten a region’s and the world’s security as they create potential reservoirs for terror movements and terrorists.
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