Arab Spring Turns to Winter for Much of Middle East, North Africa

Published June 17, 2015 | By Felipe Umaña

Only a few years ago, much of the Fragile States Index analysis was following the aftermath of the Arab Spring. At the time, there was significant hope for the future, as the despotic regime of Muammar Gaddafi fell in Libya, similarly undemocratic regimes collapsed in Egypt and Tunisia, and other countries hastily rushed through liberal, democratic reforms in the hopes of staving off their own demise. But fast forward only a few years, and (despite generally positive signs in Tunisia) most of that hope has evaporated. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen — among the 2015 Index’s most high risk nations — have witnessed some of the most significant declines over the past year.

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.

Failed States Index 2013: The Troubled Ten

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

Though it is called the Failed States Index, that is not to say that every country on the FSI is a failed state — after all, Finland is ranked on the FSI. That is also not to say that any country on the FSI is necessarily failed — though Somalia might be the closest approximation to what many people may consider to be a failed state. Rather, the Failed States Index measures the pressures experienced by countries and thus adjudges their susceptibility to state failure. Ranking top on the FSI does not in and of itself mean that a country is failed — it simply means that of all countries, that one country is the most at risk of failure.

Failed States Index 2012: The Troubled Ten (Plus One)

Published June 20, 2012 | By T. Anderson, R. Jaeger, F. Umaña, N. Manning, A. Whitehead.

As the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate in 2011, the country remains at the top of the Failed States Index for the fifth year in succession. Ten out of twelve of Somalia’s indicators scores were above 9.0 on a scale of 10. Indeed, the Refugees and IDPs as well as the Security Apparatus indicator scores remain at the highest possible level of 10.0. The absence of a permanent national government for twenty years was aggravated in 2011 by an upsurge of violence, massive human rights abuses and natural disasters. Worsened social conditions have added to political instability which led to mass displacement and impoverishment. Somalia also continues to be a relentless headache for international shipping, with the unrelenting activities of Somali pirates deep into the Indian Ocean. Despite attempts by external actors such as the African Union and neighboring Kenya to intervene in the conflict, terrorist activity by al-Shabaab and general unabating lawlessness has hampered such efforts.

Delayed Effects: The Arab Spring

Published June 20, 2012 | By Nate Haken

In analyzing the Arab Spring, metaphors matter. If it was a seasonal awakening of democracy we should throw open the windows, that is, welcome it. If it was a contagion of unrest, then we should board up the doors, i.e., control it. If it was a pressure cooker blowing its top, the response should be cautious and deliberate; in other words, we should manage it. The Failed States Index (FSI) does not conclusively answer the question of which metaphor is most apt, though CAST, the methodology behind the index would tend to preference the last one, with its basic construct of pressures and institutional capacities as a theoretical framework for understanding state fragility and failure.

The Arab Spring: Where Did That Come From?

Published June 18, 2011 | By Nate Haken

After having contracted by 0.5% in 2009, global GDP is now very much in recovery mode, with growth of around 5% in 2010. However, this does not mean smooth sailing either for developing or developed countries. In the last year there have been massive protests against governments’ economic stewardship in countries as disparate as Greece and Burkina Faso, illustrating the sobering truth that under certain conditions recovery can be even more destabilizing than recession.