Category Archives: Fragile States Index 2017

Fragile States Index 2017: Factionalization and Group Grievance Fuel Rise in Instability

BY J.J. MESSNER

Though South Sudan has returned to top position on the annual Fragile States Index (FSI) for 2017, and Finland continues to maintain its position as the world’s least fragile country, the global tumult of the past year has been borne out in the Index’s trend analysis, as Ethiopia, Mexico, and Turkey recorded the greatest worsening over 2016. A number of developed countries also recorded notable worsening scores across certain indicators, in particular the United States and the United Kingdom, which both experienced highly divisive political campaigns during 2016. The long-term trends of the FSI have also raised red flags on a number of countries – in particular South Africa and Senegal – for which the conditions that could precipitate instability have worsened significantly.

The FSI, now in its thirteenth year, is an assessment of 178 countries based on twelve social, economic, and political indicators that quantifies pressures experienced by countries, and thus their susceptibility to instability. The FSI itself is based on the CAST conflict assessment framework, a methodology developed a quarter of a century ago that continues to be implemented widely by policymakers, field practitioners, and local communities in better understanding the drivers of conflict. The FSI, adapted from the CAST framework, is assessed through a process that triangulates content analysis of over 50 million data points, with quantitative data sets and qualitative research validation.

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“So Far From God, So Close to the United States.” Mexico Most Worsened in 2017

BY GEORGE LEHNER

It has been a tough year for Mexico. As Mexico has borne the brunt of combative political rhetoric from north of the border, the country has also weathered economic and political challenges, as well as an uptick of violence. The first weeks of 2017 saw widespread protests throughout Mexico, a sign that the problems that have plagued this country for last several years are continuing, a manifestation of the pressures that saw Mexico tied as the equal most worsened country on the 2017 Fragile States Index (FSI).

In 10 of the 12 FSI indicators, Mexico showed a decline, moving it’s total score by 3.9 points, a significant change over the prior year. Most notably, Mexico worsened in the Security Apparatus, Economic Decline, Refugees & IDP’s, and Group Grievance indicators. Though the economy continued to grow slightly, the overall economic outlook in Mexico, and its ability to sustain meaningful economic progress, was clouded by doubt. This was largely due to fluctuating oil prices and the uncertainty of the impact of the U.S. election on U.S.-Mexican relations.

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Golden Era of Growth Fails to Mask Deeper Grievances in Ethiopia

BY HANNAH BLYTH

Since the end of an almost two-decades long civil war that began in 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has provided relative political stability and enabled strong economic development. Though an inter-state conflict with Eritrea over disputed territory flared in 1998-2000, since the ceasefire was declared between the two countries in December 2000, Ethiopia has been on a path of strong fiscal growth and has become an increasingly respected player within the international community. Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen from US$8.2 billion in 2000, to an impressive US$61.5 billion in 2015 – coinciding with major injections of foreign capital from development partners. Looking past these golden dollar sign headlines, however, there are signals that deep social and political fissures have the potential to set the country back on a path to conflict.

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From Attempted Coup to Attempted Autocracy: A Year of Instability in Turkey

BY AMANDA QUINN

Bordered by eight countries and situated between Europe and Asia, Turkey has been affected by geopolitical forces on multiple fronts. In recent years, a combination of internal and external pressures has pushed the country into challenging times, especially throughout 2016. Turkey’s overall score on the 2017 Fragile States Index worsened by 3.5 points from its score on the 2016 Index, its most drastic change since 2012, and also making Turkey the third-most worsened country on the FSI over the past year, behind only Ethiopia and Mexico. Between an attempted military coup, multiple major terrorist attacks, continued spillover from the crisis in Syria, and an increasingly authoritarian government, it is impossible to pinpoint a single driver of Turkey’s growing instability.

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Falling Behind the Pack: Brazil Endures a Difficult Year of Self-Inflicted Troubles

BY GEORGE LEHNER

Brazil showed a significant decline in the 2017 FSI, becoming the fourth most worsened country since 2016, largely as a result of a devastating recession, continued fallout from widespread political corruption probes, and the impeachment of its President. Overall, Brazil worsened by 2.9 points on its total score compared to the prior year.

In nine of the twelve measures of fragility, Brazil’s performance worsened markedly, dropping most notably in the areas of Group Grievance, Demographic Pressures, and Public Services. The three-year trend line demonstrates similar levels of declines across eight of the twelve indicators, with notable changes in the Security Apparatus, the Economy, and Public Service indicators.

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Problems of the Rainbow Nation Viewed Across the Full Spectrum

BY J.J. MESSNER

Over the past decade, the Rainbow Nation has also traversed much of the color spectrum on the Fragile States Index (FSI) map. Though our color palette is simply representative of a country’s score – green to blue for the most stable, yellow to deep red for the most fragile – the changing colors of South Africa on that map during the past decade has served as a stark visual demonstration of the country’s rapid decline. From the bright green of (relative) Stability in 2007 through to the yellow-orange of the Warning category in 2017 – as the country faces social, economic, and political turmoil.

It is important to contextualize just how far South Africa has declined over the past decade. In 2007, the FSI ranked South Africa at 132nd on a score of 57.4; in 2017, South Africa has rocketed up the rankings to 96th position, on a score of 72.3. Of all 178 countries that FSI assesses, South Africa is the sixth most worsened country over the past decade. To be even clearer, with the exception of Senegal, South Africa is the most worsened country not in active conflict or civil war.

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And Now for Some Good News: Where the World is Getting Better

BY DANIEL GANZ

The most fragile — and the most worsened — countries tend to attract the most attention in the Fragile States Index (FSI). However, the reality is that the majority of countries are improving based on the FSI’s trends, and a number of countries have made considerable progress in the past decade based on their FSI scores. These examples demonstrate that a long-term commitment to peace and reconciliation, poverty reduction, and economic growth collectively contributes to a government’s legitimization, and ultimately, the stability of its country.

Since his rise to power ten years ago, Cuba’s leader Raul Castro has accomplished more to improve Cuba-U.S. relations, usher in modern technologies, and stimulate its economy than his brother had done in the previous half a century. These incremental changes in Cuba’s political, economic, and social landscapes contributed to the historic events of 2016 that included the US easing trade restrictions to Cuba, diplomatic ties between the EU and Cuba were established, and President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country in 88 years.

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Colombia Enjoys a Peace Dividend After Half-Century of Conflict

BY CHRISTINA MURPHY

Colombia captured international headlines and accolades in 2016 when the government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This victory for President Juan Manuel Santos’ government marked the beginning of the end for one of the world’s longest running civil wars. Although the deal was narrowly rejected by Colombian voters in October 2016, the Colombian Congress approved a revised deal in November.

The conflict between the Colombian government, the FARC, and other guerilla and paramilitary groups has taken a devastating toll on Colombia over the past half-century. More than 220,000 people were killed between 1958 and 2012, mainly civilians, and more than 7 million people have been displaced by the conflict. Estimates suggest that the conflict also cost the country billions in lost economic growth.

While the agreement was a major win for the country in 2016, it comes on the heels of a much longer trajectory of improving governance and legitimacy in Colombia. In fact, Colombia has been steadily improving every year since the FSI began, from a total score of 91.8 and ranking of 27 in 2006, to being ranked 69th in 2017 with a score of 78.9.

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Cracks in the Foundation: United States and United Kingdom

BY NATE HAKEN

Society is more resilient to shocks when social, economic, political and security pressures are manageable. However, an improving economy does not guarantee social and political cohesion.

The United States is a case in point. In 2016, unemployment (at 4.9%) was at a 9-year low; GDP per capita (at US$57,500) was at an all-time high; public services, including healthcare, had been improving for the most at-risk populations since 2013. And yet in 2016, two key indicators — Factionalized Elites and Group Grievance — spiked to unprecedented levels during and after a vitriolic presidential election campaign in which polarizing rhetoric was used about Muslims and immigrants, and a series of high-profile police shootings sparked protests across the country, exacerbating racial tensions in African-American communities.

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Fragile States Index 2017 – Annual Report

BY J.J. MESSNER, NATE HAKEN, HANNAH BLYTH, CHRISTINA MURPHY, AMANDA QUINN, GEORGE LEHNER, DANIEL GANZ

The Fragile States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Fragile States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.

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FFP’s Hannah Blyth discussed #VPSHR implementation and security due diligence at the #OECDMinerals Responsible Mineral Suppy Chains Forum with @fredericchenais @HumanSecurityCH @dcaf_ppps @foreignoffice @Total @OECD_BizFin

FFP extends our deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Matthew Oguche and our @mercycorps partners on the loss of their staff member Faye Mooney in Kaduna State. Their contributions to peace in Nigeria will be remembered by all who had the honor of working with them.

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“The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, extends his heartfelt condolences to the families, colleagues and friend...

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How will global #conflicts affect #sustainable #security in 2019? @fundforpeace has been studying the trends.

“Despite the relentlessness violence of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, coupled with devastating cycles of deadly drought, and mass displacement, the resilience of the Somali people is remarkable, and rightly a point of pride.” Read more from @natehaken: https://t.co/h4qtidDdMK

For #Algeria #Morocco and #Tunisia, "many of the economic, social and political indicators that began deteriorating on the #FragileStatesIndex in the years preceding the Arab Spring are worsening again.” More from @pattitaft: https://t.co/QXowlj3FJ9

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