"State of concern" was a term that briefly replaced the traditional designation "rogue state" used by the United States to describe nefarious regimes that threaten international stability. The change first surfaced when Madeleine Albright gave an interview to National Public Radio in June of 2000. She said -
"Well, first of all, we are now calling these states "states of concern" because we are concerned about their support for terrorist activity, their development of missiles, their desire to disrupt the international system. They remain--North Korea remains on the terrorist list, and we are going to really be looking at how this relationship develops."
The change in lingo was subtle but consequential. A "rogue state" is inherently nefarious and has no hope of rapprochement with the peaceful comity of "good guys". A "state of concern" is something to be helped and doted over, having strayed from the path which was presumed to be inherent in the "New World Order" of the post-Cold War world - the trend towards liberal democracy and capitalism. The left-wing praised the change because they had criticised the "rogue state" moniker for being too simplistic. It was, and is, antagonistic towards a foreign government to class them as a "rogue state" - but then it might also be justified. The usual contenders for inclusion on a list of "rogue states" typically include Iran, North Korea, Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Syria. The governments of all these places share some common traits - their ideologies are fundamentally opposed to Western interests, they are not democratic, they are authoritarian, and they are at various stages of acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Interestingly, the change was originally brought about in deference to North Korea's feelings. A Seoul summit, at which the Presidents of the two Koreas shook hands, was taken by many to signal the start of rapprochement between the two countries. North Korea looked like it might finally be about to behave itself, and as the most potentially dangerous rogue state in the world, the State Department decided it'd be nice to encourage them. A big issue under discussion in American politics at the time was the construction of a missile shield which could keep Asian nukes off American soil. The change in lingo left supporters of this initiative with their pants down, because no-one would seriously construct a missile shield due to "states of concern".
In an interview given to National Review in the month of the announcement Condoleezza Rice, then foreign policy advisor to the Bush campaign, was dismissive of the change. She said the Bush administration, if elected, would possibly "try to avoid categories of that kind" altogether, but went on to stress that she was concerned mainly over diplomatic word-twisting. She said -
"these are states that have been adamantly and consistently opposed to American interests, these are states that have been trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, these are states that are stirring up trouble in all kinds of places of interest and importance to the United States, and they are opaque regimes that seem bent on destabilizing the international system, not acting within it. As long as you're not confused about that, I don't care what you call them."
It has been suggested that the Clinton administration planned to normalise relations with the erstwhile "rogue states", and indeed they reportedly planned a visit by the President to North Korea and an end to the embargo on Cuba. The Bush administration, which has a less rosy view of global geopolitics, has put an end to these plans, and even dubbed three of the old "rogue states" to be part of an "axis of evil". Members of the Bush administration now usually refer to nefarious regimes as "rogue states", although they have occasionally said "state of concern" (in reference to North Korea). The term "failed state" is also sometimes used, although this is more specific - a state can be said to have "failed" when it experiences a breakdown of (or never achieved) the monopoly on the use of force within its own borders.