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.
Published June 24, 2014 | By Felipe Umaña
Iran, despite its hefty domestic and international political issues and obdurate theocratic government, has taken several gradual but important steps to improve its standing on the world stage over the past year. These improvements, which occurred in all but one of the twelve indicators analyzed, have made it the 2014 Fragile States Index’s most improved country.
Published June 24, 2014 | By Kendall Lawrence
Syria’s civil war continued to intensify over 2013. The Syrian Army and allied Hezbollah forces faced off over the course of the year with numerous rebel factions, all supported by different external actors. The government recaptured the town of Qusair, but lost a major stronghold in Khan al-Assal in the west of Aleppo province.
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.
Published June 24, 2014 | By J. J. Messner
Now with ten years of data from the Fragile States Index (FSI), we have the opportunity to look back on a decade of trends. Though it is useful and informative to view countries’ performances in a given year, it really is just a snapshot in time. Viewing short term trends from year-to-year does add some color to that analysis, but it still does not allow for the slow pace of change that development often entails.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Borno State, the location of the April 2014 abduction of nearly 300 school girls, is at the heart of what has been called the “Boko Haram” insurgency. The insurgency, perpetrated by a militant group called Jamāʻat Ahl as-Sunnah lid-daʻwa wal-Jihād (JAS), began in 2009 as a mass uprising against police in the states of Bauchi, Yobe, and Borno in which hundreds died. Violence de-escalated rapidly after insurgent leader Muhammed Yusuf was captured and killed. However, in 2011, the death toll began once again to rise and kept rising for the next three years. In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa to contain the violence.