In contrast to a failed state, a weak state is a nation whose government or institutions are unable, or unwilling, to provide a significant set of essential public services, including just and legitimate government, physical security, food and health, and minimal economic development. A failed state, provides essentially none. Susan Rice, current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has written extensively on them, observing poverty is usually the core problem. Most, but certainly not all, are in Africa. 
Weak states usually have sufficient government to work with international organizations, although corruption and logistics may limit the efficiency with which aid can be delivered. Some weak states have a stronger political party organization than a government. 
They may have insurgencies or be involved in war across their borders. Security assistance, or even military operations, may be a risky but sometimes effective outside intervention.
- Susan Rice and Stewart Patrick (2008), Index of State Weakness in the Developing World, Brookings Institution
- Susan Rice and Stewart Patrick (7 March 2008), "The "Weak States" Gap", Washington Post
- Jason Sumich, João Honwana (2007), Strong Party, Weak State? Frelimo and State Survival Through the Mozambican Civil War, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre