From the Editors

Fragile states are risky environments. Many states fail in their responsibilities to their citizens but those states which are fragile, failed or weak are particularly liable to render their citizens vulnerable. Failures of authority or legitimacy can lead to the emergence of significant organised violence; the impact of this can then be compounded by the failure of the state to protect its citizens, especially minorities. Thus conflict as a cause of displacement often correlates with state fragility, whether as a symptom or a cause of fragility, and the ability of fragile states and their neighbours to deal with displacement has become a key indicator of failure or progress.

This issue of FMR attempts to go behind the definitions, typologies and indicators to explore some of the concepts and realities. The articles that follow also look at a variety of cases where displacement and state fragility go together or where countries are emerging from conflict-related displacement and fragility. They also discuss some of the humanitarian and development responses.

State fragility may play a significant role in forced migration relating to natural disasters or environmental crises, as failures in governance affect the vulnerabilities of populations and their ability to adapt and be resilient. We will be following up on some of these issues in FMR 45, due out in December 2013, which will have ‘Crisis migration’ as its theme.  

We would like to thank Alex Betts for his assistance as special advisor on this issue. We are also very grateful to the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and UNDP for their funding support for this issue. All our current institutional donors, including those who generously provide unearmarked funding for FMR, are listed on page 83.

The full issue is online at  in html, pdf and audio formats. It will be available online and in print in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

FMR43 Listing (expanded contents listing for this issue) is available in print, and online at

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With our best wishes

Marion Couldrey and Maurice Herson
Editors, Forced Migration Review


Opinions in FMR do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors, the Refugee Studies Centre or the University of Oxford.
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