fragile states index
Every year, The Fund for Peace – which is supported by the United Nations Foundations – publishes the Fragile States Index, which ranks 178 countries according to their stability. Stability is quantified by taking the measurements of 12 main indicators, mainly regarding the areas of political, social and economic status quo. The Fund for Peace has created the Conflict Assessment System Tool, which couples social science methodology and an analytical software to deliver the results of the FSI.

The FSI not only gives rankings but also provides valuable insight into the general stability of the world, evaluating what regions are in highly pressured conflict and why they are in that state. Oftentimes, peace is the result of stability within that government.

Therefore, measuring how vulnerable a state is essentially involves measuring the strength of the institutions established by a government. As a humanitarian crisis unfolds, whether it is due to a natural disaster or violent conflicts, the response to that calamitous event oftentimes reflects the strength of the government.

For a more technical understanding of how the FSI gives the rankings, each country is given a score out of 120 points. The points are gathered from scores in each of the 12 overarching categories, which include: demographic pressures, refugees and internally displaced persons, uneven economic development, group grievance, human flight and brain drain, poverty and economic decline, state legitimacy, public services, human rights and rule of law, security apparatus, factionalized elites and external intervention.

These 12 indicators are further broken down into sub-indicators, including factors such as food scarcity, displacement, discrimination, migration per capita, and so on – and there are more than 100 sub-indicators. After the data on the sub-indicators is gathered, the data is fed into CAST which the Fund for Peace created to fit their own search parameters and algorithms.

It is important to note that a strong government does not mean that there is stability. Many times, the government can be strong, but this can mean that they are also repressive.

Top 5 Most Vulnerable Countries in the World:

1. South Sudan, score: 112.9

2. Somalia, score: 112.6

3. Central African Republic, score:110.6

4. Democratic Republic of the Congo, score: 110.2

5. Sudan, score 110.1

As the FSI has been publishing their data annually, the greatest advantage of having such a large data set has been the ability to see the long-term trends and even predict the direction that certain countries are going as a result of their current events. There is no answer for establishing solid and transparent governments, but identifying the indicators is one imperative step in trying to build governments.

– Christina Cho 

Sources: The Fund for Peace 1, The Fund for Peace 2, The Fund for Peace 3
Photo: ViktorPersson