Burma ranked 'critical' on Failed States Index

June 23, 2009 (DVB), Weighed down by state corruption, economic decline and vastly uneven development, Burma has ranked at the tail-end of this year's Failed States Index, published by US-based Foreign Policy magazine.

The current economic recession has sparked conflict and instability across the world, and has pulled many struggling countries further toward the brink of collapse.

In Burma, however, the majority of responsibility for near economic breakdown and endemic human rights abuses lies with the military government, says Foreign Policy's Failed States Index, which ranked Burma 164 out of 177 countries.

Like Zimbabwe, the report says, Burma is failing because its government is "strong enough to choke the life out of [its society]".

The Southeast Asian pariah state ranked below North Korea, Ethiopia and East Timor overall, and only above Somalia and Sudan in terms of even development.

Burma is one of the world's most isolated states, and is under tough United States and European Union sanctions, which have contributed in part towards the country's economic decline, although state corruption is widely perceived as the key catalyst for this.

Burmese political analyst Aung Thu Nyein said that the results were not surprising.

"It reflects the reality of the current situation in Burma, where the economy is in a bad state and there major political problems," he said.

"The government is not providing public services. The main problem for me is the military rule – it's not surprising that there is a failed state when the army is in power."

Corruption is also a major problem, he said, and it "affects every sector of society".

The index used 12 political, economic and social indicators, including external intervention and presence of public services, to measure whether a country qualifies as a 'failed state'.

Burma was ranked as one of 14 countries deemed to be in a "critical" state, with Somalia heading the list, followed by Zimbabwe and Sudan.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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