Is Kosovo a failed state


February 17, 2008 will be remembered in the Balkans as the day when the Kosovo government led by Prime Minister Hasim Thaci read a unilateral Declaration of Independence from Serbia. As expected, Serbia did not recognize its independence while Russia, China, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus sided with the Serbians allegedly due to political reasons both at national and international level. Serbia went as far as to filE a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice, (ICJ) in The Hague against Kosovo’s unilateral Declaration of Independence claiming that it violated international law, among other things. Two and a half years later, when the ICJ ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral Declaration of Independence was not a violation against international law, everything seems intact – business as usual.

So is Kosovo a failed state? The Fund for Peace has created and published on its website a Failed State Index (which can be found on Foreign Policy Magazine‘s website as well) whose purpose is to define that for the countries all over the world. It chose the following twelve criteria:

  1. Demographic pressures
  2. Refugees
  3. Group grievance
  4. Human flight
  5. Uneven development
  6. Economic decline
  7. Delegitimization of the state
  8. Public services
  9. Human rights
  10. Security apparatus
  11. Factionalized elites
  12. External intervention

In other words, there are four social, two economic and six political criteria respectively that determine the data’s final results. The highest score on every criterion is 10, and the lowest is 0 so totals vary from 0 to 120. The higher the score, the worse the particular country is on the issue.

A minor inconvenience in The Fund for Peace’s data is that it works with the total, not the average. For example, while Somalia’s total is 114.3, its average is 9.525 which would facilitate analyzers’ interpretation of the results into figuring out which issues are less problematic less problematic (Human Flight, Uneven Development), and which ones are more problematic (the other ten) but I will talk about it in the future.

Back to Kosovo

According to The Fund for Peace’s data, Kosovo is ranked 86th (1st in the data being the worst) with a total of 77.8 which makes an average of 6.483 with more problematic issues (above the average) in:

  • Refugees
  • Group grievance
  • Uneven development
  • Delegitimization of the state
  • Security apparatus
  • Factionalized elites
  • External intervention

… and less problematic issues (below the average) in:

  • Demographic pressures
  • Human flight
  • Economic decline
  • Public services
  • Human rights

The data is generally obtained from a complicated combination of reports, interviews, official documents and public opinion polls which are then manipulated by a copyrighted and patent-approved software. This software is worth exploring. 

However accurate the calculations are, the fact that the situation in Kosovo has not been calculated separately from Serbia gives analyzers doubts about this data’s trustworthiness of where the self-proclaimed independent state really is in the table. Due to the sensitivity on the issue and for the sake of a potential for further importance of the software, Serbia and Kosovo should be present both together and separately. Thus it will be easier to speculate about whatever outcome of the final status of Kosovo there could be. If Kosovo lags a lot more behind Serbia with a trend of a widening gap between the two, speculations could go in the direction of an independent Kosovo and vice versa.

Based on these data so far, Kosovo (together with Serbia) is not a failed state, but is below the average or in other words closer to failed states’ average than to developed and successful states’ average.  In addition to that, the more bad news for Serbia and Kosovo is that together their average Failed State Index is surpassed only by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the region.

  • Bulgaria 5.1
  • Romania 5.0167
  • Greece 3.85
  • Macedonia 6.0583
  • Albania 5.9167
  • Montenegro 4.775
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 6.9583
  • Turkey 6.425
  • Croatia 4.9167
  • Hungary 4.175
  • Cyprus 5.667

From these numbers, speculations may arise that – if not compared to the rest of the world – Kosovo is a failed state in the region which is possibly a slightly more accurate approach to measure the concept of failed states than looking into the big picture (the world).

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