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Research Paper
Nepal: A Failing State or a State in Transition?
Oliver Housden

When Nepal made the initial transition to democracy in 1990, euphoria swept the nation as the autocratic partyless panchayat period came to an end. However, as the new system failed to deliver greater economic opportunities and change in politics, disillusionment and antipathy towards the state began to grown. It was within this context that the decade-long civil war would ultimately flourish which crippled Nepali infrastructure and many rural communities in the former Himalayan Kingdom.

While a ceasefire between the government and Maoist rebels was reached in November 2006, the security dynamics in Nepal remained fragile and extremely volatile. As a result, the Fund for Peace with Foreign Policy magazine has ranked Nepal among the twenty five failing states in the world for the last three years and is deemed to be ‘on alert’ for potential collapse. 

The modest intention of this essay is to question the above assertion that Nepal is a failing state. To this end, it shall firstly outline the broad definition of failing states. Secondly, it will offer an overview of the key security problems which face Nepal and offer solutions to deal with them effectively in the future. Following from this, the paper shall analyse the current security dynamic through the prism of failing states provided by the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy. Using this evidence as well as incorporating key literature on failing states, the essay shall critique the claim that Nepal is a failing state; and in doing so, will finally offer some conclusions about the usefulness of creating indexes such as the FSI as a basis for comparison between so-called ‘failing states.’


I. Defining Failing States
II. Implementing the Peace Process
III. Trouble in Terai
IV.  Other Human Security Issues
V. Is Nepal a Failing State?
VI. Bibiliography


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