Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan topped the list of failed states this year -- rankings based on human rights, governance, economic activity and other indicators.
Also among the top 10 are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Poverty is endemic in many failed or failing states; in others, the government has lost legitimacy and control. As economic pressures increase with the global financial crisis, and environmental pressures contribute to water and food shortages, even more countries are at risk of failure.
But these dire conditions have implications far beyond individual borders, as failed states -- with their high rates of poverty and violence -- may serve as breeding grounds for terrorists with global ambitions.
Worldfocus.org's weekly radio show explores what it means for a state to fail, from the impact on daily life to widespread geopolitical ripple effects.
Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosts a panel of guests:
Pauline Baker is the president of The Fund for Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing war and alleviating the conditions that cause conflict. She has also served as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is a professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Christopher Boucek is a research associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on regional security challenges. Before joining the Carnegie Endowment, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and lecturer in Politics at the Woodrow Wilson School. Boucek has written widely on the Middle East, Central Asia, and terrorism.
Georgette Gagnon is the director of the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch and led a research mission to Darfur in 2004. She previously investigated human rights violations in Rwanda and directed the Human Rights Department at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.