The World Square Blog is The Fund for Peace's international marketplace of ideas. At World Square, we aim for open dialogue on the key issues that FFP works on, including fragile states, conflict, security & human rights, and transnational threats.
World Square is also a venue for issues to be brought to FFP: If you would like to discuss an issue with FFP, tweet us at @fundforpeace.


Behind the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize: What is the OPCW?

Published October 11, 2013 | Patricia Taft and Jacob Grunberger
This morning the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This decision seems to be consistent with last year’s decision-making calculus to award the prize to an institution for the purpose of boosting its notoriety and to lend legitimacy to future endeavors.

Is Youth Bulge a Crucial Determinant of Stability?

Published October 10, 2013 | By Katherine Carter
Today approximately 44 percent of the world’s 7.2 billion people are under 24 years old - and 26 percent are under 14. Of those 7.2 billion people, a staggering 82 percent live in less developed regions of the world – primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Currently, the global median age is 29.2 years old, a sharp contrast to Europe, for example, where the median age is 41. This population phenomenon, called “youth bulge,” is especially prevalent in fragile states and Africa.

Government Shutdown and State Failure

Published October 2, 2013 | By J. J. Messner
The current shutdown of the U.S. Government, regardless of one’s political views, is pretty embarrassing for the world’s largest economy and (hopefully still) apparent beacon of democracy. Beyond the embarrassing – and some would claim, shameful – debacle unfolding on Capitol Hill, there is a more fundamental question that arises on whether this is a demonstration of the failure of a state. After all, our own definition of state failure includes “the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services.”

Mapping Conflict Risk at the Local Level

Published September 30, 2013 | By Nate Haken
It’s difficult to make sense of trends and patterns in conflict risk in Nigeria through screaming headlines and blaring sound bites. To shed some clarity on the matter, The Fund for Peace, in partnership with the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, has been integrating a wide range of datasets onto a common web map platform. The purpose of this platform is to consolidate any available information on conflict risk in Nigeria and who is doing, what, where to address those risks. An analysis of this data is the basis of a set of state and Local Government Area (LGA) level conflict bulletins published and updated regularly.

Will He or Won't He? Omar al-Bashir Mulls a Visit to New York

Published September 24, 2013 | By Katherine Carter
Despite being indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced he will attend the United Nations General Assembly General Debate in New York, scheduled to be held from September 24th to October 2nd. He claimed that United States cannot arrest him on behalf of the ICC because it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, and because the UN. grants heads of state diplomatic immunity while attending its conferences. While he’s correct on those points, several other factors complicate the issue. [Updated]

Terror Strikes Nairobi Again

Published September 23, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
The tragedy of the rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya hit close to home for many of us at the Fund for Peace. Like countless others working the fields of international development, defense and business in Africa, most of us have had the occasion to spend time in Nairobi over the years. Nairobi has long served as a hub in East Africa and Kenya has been one of the continental leaders in Africa on everything from providing peacekeepers to the world’s most dangerous places to combating terrorism at home and further afield. It is in these last efforts, Kenya’s participation in the war on terrorism, which may have brought the tragedy home to Nairobi this weekend. It is also yet another example that underscores the dangers to innocent civilians emanating from neighboring weak and failed states and the half-measures employed to deal with them.

Honest Debate and Courting Controversy – Keys to Tackling Conflict and Poverty

Published September 23, 2013 | By Krista Hendry
Conflict and poverty will continue in this world until there is a global recognition of the challenges and honest debates about how they are being addressed by society as a whole. We have to be upfront about both the problems themselves and the weaknesses in our current responses to those problems, or we will not be able to build lasting solutions.

Assessing Development and Stability in Africa

Published September 23, 2013 | By Katherine Carter

Great Business Schools (GBS) recently published “Scoring Africa,” an interactive graphic that ranks 53 countries in Africa based on their development. As a follow-up to our recent comparison between our Failed States index (FSI) and the World Happiness Index, we decided to perform a quick comparison with GBS’ numbers as well to see if there was significant correlation between them.

Getting Serious About Chemical Weapons

Published September 20, 2013 | By Patricia Taft, Jacob Grunberger

With dueling opinion pieces gracing the pages of the American and Russian press by presidents and senators, and months of strategizing, vacillating, and handwringing, the crisis over the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a problem that seems to be going nowhere meaningful fast. The genesis of the latest crisis was the August 21, 2013 series of missile strikes on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, a neighborhood suspected of harboring militant forces opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Soon after, videos and images began to surface depicting dead civilians, including children, who appeared to bear no signs of injuries resulting from explosives or conventional weapons fire.

Does Stability Equal Happiness?

Published September 16, 2013 | By J. J. Messner*

Columbia University's Earth Institute and UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network published the 2013 World Happiness Index (WHI), which examines aspects of the state and society that are considered key to general happiness and well-being. Given that we like indices around here at The Fund for Peace, we decided to do a quick comparison between our numbers and those of the World Happiness Index to determine if there is a correlation between state stability and happiness. The conclusion we reached was: well, kind of, but not really.