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.
Published June 27, 2016 | By J.J. Messner
As the civil war in Syria enters its sixth year, its effects continue to wreak havoc not only on its own war-ravaged population, but also upon countries farther afield. In the 2016 Fragile States Index, Syria was again one of the most worsened countries year-on-year, catapulting them into the list of the top ten most fragile countries on the planet. To date, thousands of Syrians have made treacherous and uncertain journeys across land and sea to the relative safety of Europe, and it is likely that many more will continue to do so. The countries of Europe – particularly those situated on a trajectory between Turkey and Germany and Scandinavia – have found themselves overwhelmed by the influx, and have responded to these pressures with attempts to close previously open borders. At the same time, ultra-nationalistic, right-wing, anti-immigrant political parties in multiple countries across the continent have taken the opportunity to politically manipulate the crisis and further destabilize domestic politics.
Published June 24, 2016 | By J. J. Messner
As the dust settles on the historic Brexit vote and its effects, it is easy to focus on the near term, visible side effects. Even in the unlikely event that Britain manages to negotiate an association deal that is as good as being in the European Union, it will now no longer have a voice in that Union. There are also murmurings of a second independence referendum that could see Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to “Remain,” finally leave the United Kingdom and rejoin the European Union, thereby ripping Britain apart. Add to that the ramifications for Northern Ireland, or the renewed Spanish questioning of the sovereignty of Gibraltar. The immediate crash of the Pound and the FTSE forebode financial turmoil to come as trade between the UK and its neighbors is threatened with a significantly less liberal trading regime, which even in a best case scenario will see transfer costs increase. Further, there will be much uncertainty regarding the future ability of millions of British citizens to live and work easily across 27 other countries – or that of millions of Europeans who attend British universities or staff its hospitality, trade, and financial sectors.