Most-Improved Country for 2011: Georgia

Published June 18, 2011
By J. J. Messner
Failed States Index 2011
It is less than three years since Russia attacked Georgia, ostensibly over the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the 2009 Failed States Index, Georgia ranked 33rd and into the Alert category. Though the country has definitely performed better in the past (ranking as well as 60th in 2006), the fact that it has rebounded to 47th in this year’s Index is somewhat remarkable. Even more remarkable, Georgia is this year’s most improved nation in the 2011 Failed States Index, having improved by 10 positions and by a score of 4.0.

As Georgia and Russia moved away from conflict, and as relations between the government in Tbilisi and its separatist regions stabilized, this reversal of hostilities — both internal and external — are reflected in the country’s scores. The Demographic Pressures and Group Grievance scores have improved by 0.4 points each; the other two social indicators (Refugees/IDPs and Brain Drain) have also marginally improved. Similarly, the External Intervention indicator, which reached a high point of 9.5 in 2009 as a result of the Russian incursion, has now settled back to 8.5—although this is not a good score by any means, it marks a significant improvement of 1.0 points in just 2 years.

Though it would be easy to view Georgia’s resurgence as related to reduced saber-rattling by its sizeable neighbor, the small Black Sea country is actually reaping the benefits of more deep-seated institutional reforms. Though the lessened risk of another Russian incursion has no doubt contributed to Georgia’s improved External Intervention score, it is ultimately the government’s reforms, such as those increasing transparency and accountability within the security apparatus, as well as clamp-downs on endemic corruption, that are most sustainably benefiting its overall score.

These reforms have been reflected in a number of indicators. The State Legitimacy indicator has improved by a remarkable 0.6 points, while the Public Services and Human Rights and Rule of Law indicators both improved by 0.4 points. The clamp-down on corruption has also likely created a better commercial environment, and may go some way to accounting for the significant 0.5 point improvement in the country’s Economy indicator.

The example of Georgia should not be seen as the country miraculously turning around to complete stability. But it can be seen that Georgia is on track for continued improvement, by dealing with issues that really matter for national stability.