Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Foreign Policy: Climate Change Causes Failed States

As part of their "Failed States Index", Foreign Policy has listed the sixty most vulnerable states in the world. These states are stressed by conflict, economic recession, political unrest, migration, resource scarcity, or any other ailments. For the second year in a row, Somalia ranks as the world's most critical state.

The IISS, through our dialogue on Climate Change and Security, has argued that climate change is unlikely to directly cause conflicts, or states to fail. Instead, it will serve to undermine already vulnerable states. When you look at this list, its clear that Somalia, Iraq, the Congo, or Sudan aren't near the top because of just one factor. Instead, they're there because of conflict, human rights violations, refugees, and many other factors. Climate change is a new factor. Foreign Policy calls it "The Last Straw" in their article about how climate change can lead to failed states.

This article uses Pakistan, and the conflict with India over Kashmir as a case study for how climate change could undermine an already weak state. Currently, Pakistan and India have the ongoing Indus Waters Treaty that shares the water rights to the Indus river between these rival nations. However, if water flow fails to meet expected levels, it is easy to forsee scenarios in which conflict over water could arise.

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