Measuring South Sudan: How Soon is Too Soon?

Published July 6, 2014 | By J.J. Messner

Every year the Fragile States Index (FSI) receives its fair share of compliments and criticism, the former often from those who wish to highlight and measure the challenges faced by countries, the latter often from those whose interests or sensibilities have been offended. This is par for the course for any organization that seeks to undertake the kind of research and analysis that FFP has done for 57 years. But every year we are often surprised by particularly unexpected commentary.

Predicting the World Cup (Assuming State Fragility Had Anything To Do With It)

Published July 3, 2014 | By J.J. Messner*

The Fragile States Index (FSI) is serious business, and it requires serious analysis and contemplation. Though the findings of the FSI should not be made light of, there is another pretty serious business going on right now: the World Cup. What if we combined these two themes? Is there any correlation between state fragility (or stability) and footballing proficiency? Could we predict the winner of the World Cup based on the FSI?

Fragile States Index 2014: Somalia Displaced as Most-Fragile State

Published June 24, 2014 | By J. J. Messner

As much as the 2014 Fragile States Index is significant for being the tenth anniversary of the Index (and for being the first to be named “Fragile States Index” rather than “Failed States Index”), it is especially notable for the change at the top: after six years in the number one position, Somalia has finally been overtaken, leaving South Sudan as the most fragile state in the world.

Statehood or Bust: The Case of South Sudan

Published June 24, 2014 | By Patricia Taft

It took three years, a slide from growing dysfunction to rapid escalation in violence, and more than a fair share of international hand-wringing to arrive at this place: South Sudan is the world’s most fragile state. What occurred in the twelve months since the last Fragile States Index — when the world’s newest country ranked fourth — to this year, where it is the chart-topper, is as complicated as the facets of state-building itself. Nonetheless, a few salient lessons might be culled even at this early stage, if not to prevent a further slide, but to at least manage expectations going into the future.

Press Release: Fragile States Index 2014 Released

Published June 24, 2014 | News from The Fund for Peace

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Fund for Peace today released the tenth edition of its annual Fragile States Index (FSI), highlighting global political, economic and social pressures experienced by states. For the first time, the 2014 FSI ranks South Sudan as number one, after Somalia had held that position for the previous six straight years; Somalia now drops to second. Newly-independent South Sudan finds itself burdened by increasingly fractious leadership and politics, severe internal strife, and widespread mass killings, frequently ethnically-based. Meanwhile, Finland has remained in the best position. The United States remains ranked at 159th, however its score worsened by 1.9 points, a relatively significant fall.

From Failed to Fragile: Renaming the Index

Published June 24, 2014 | By Krista Hendry

When the Failed States Index (FSI) was first published in 2005, the use of the term ‘”failed state” was designed to highlight and draw attention to the very real risk that people faced if their state failed to address the factors and conditions that we were measuring. While we all agreed that the term “failed state” was fraught with issues, mainly that we were not calling any country on the list failed, we knew it would likely get attention. And it did. Despite this, almost every year, we would revisit the name and think about whether we could change it finally. We had the attention and we knew people used the Index and waited eagerly for its release. Surely they would seek it out even if we changed the name?

Fragile States Index 2014: The Book

Published June 24, 2014 | By J.J. Messner, Nate Haken, et al.

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.

The World’s Ten Most Fragile States in 2014

Published June 24, 2013 | By J. J. Messner & Kendall Lawrence

Identifying and exploring the fragility of states creates the opportunity to address how they might be able to combat pressures in the future. Learning what pressures states have been able (or unable) to reduce in the past year gives insight into the capacities that exist (or do not) within each state and their governments. The top ten are profiled to give context to why they fall on this end of the Index and how they have changed since the previous year. Only two countries within the top ten saw a worsening in their individual scores, South Sudan and Central African Republic. Seven showed improvement and one experienced little change.

It Takes a Generation: West African Success Stories

Published June 24, 2014 | By Nate Haken

Many truisms about peace-building incline towards pessimism. There is a “vicious cycle,” a “conflict trap,” “unintended consequences,” the problem of “political will,” and a slew of transnational “exogenous pressures” beyond the sphere of anyone’s control. Certainly, the Fragile States Index (FSI) is often perceived as a buffet of bad news stories and cautionary tales with the same sorry countries at the top of the list year after year. But there are also cases of sustained and steady progress that give occasion for hope. Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa offer two lessons for peace-builders working for lasting change.

A Decade of Recovery: Bosnia and the Balkans Bounce Back

Published June 24, 2014 | By Laura Brisard

A decade of Fragile States Index (FSI) data gives the opportunity to focus on the parts of the world that are truly improving. Two countries nearly tied for most-improved country of the past decade: Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) and Indonesia. The Fund for Peace has previously covered the promising development of Indonesia, and it would appear that this trend is continuing. However, what makes BiH especially interesting is that it is not merely one single country that is leading the charts — it’s part of an entire neighborhood of improvement.

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