In understanding the peer review approach to the Fragile States Index, it is important to understand the framework it is based upon. Whereas a framework and methodology will generally be developed to meet the objective of generating an Index, the Fragile States Index is unique in having been generated many years after the framework upon which it is based had itself been developed for the purpose of conflict assessment. Therefore, many substantive reviews are of the CAST framework and methodology, which to which the Fragile States Index is inextricably tied.
During the past decade, the CAST methodology has been peer reviewed in several different environments, including by independent scholars and experts as well as educational, government, and private-sector agencies and institutions that have evaluated it for alternative uses. In each application, CAST is refined and updated. An (albeit non-exhaustive) list of various views can be found here.
A variety of different actors and stakeholders use the CAST methodology, along with the Fragile States Index, for various reasons:
- Governments use the framework for early warning and to design economic assistance strategies that can reduce the potential for conflict and promote development in fragile states;
- Militaries use the framework to strengthen situational awareness, enhance readiness, and apply strategic metrics to evaluate success in peace and stability operations;
- The private sector uses the framework to calculate political risk for investment opportunities;
- Multinational organizations and a range of other entities find the framework useful for modeling and gaming, management of complex organizations, and for conflict-risk assessments;
- Educators use the framework to train students in analyzing war and peace issues by blending the techniques of information technology with social science; and
- The countries being rated use the framework for self-assessment to gauge their own stability and performance on objective criteria.