The states of Libya and Syria have deteriorated the most over the last decade, posing the greatest threats to global stability, according to the Fragile States Index.
“Reflective of the spiraling insecurity in the post Arab Spring world, marred by complex local ethnic and social-economic tensions overlaid with sectarian Sunni and Shia divides and regional power plays, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq all made the top ten in the Most Worsened for 2015, says the index, which ranks countries according to several criteria, including legitimacy, robustness of security apparatus, uneven development, economic decline and the number of refugees.
“Though each has its own conflict dynamics, political fragmentation and humanitarian crises, the deepening fragility across the four states over the past year is reshaping the whole regional landscape.”
On the other hand, the authors note: “Between 2014 and 2015, 108 countries improved by more than 0.2 points, while only half as many (52) worsened by greater than 0.2 points.
“This continues a long-standing trend in the Index where generally more countries improve year-on-year than they do worsen. In the past decade, there has been an overall improvement worldwide, where roughly the same ratio of countries are better off today than they were ten years ago.”
Of the world’s 10 most fragile states, seven are in Africa and three are in the Middle East.
South Sudan topped the Index for the second year in succession, as the country continues to be wracked by internal conflict, fractious politics, and poverty, adds the report, published by The Fund for Peace, an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security:
South Sudan is joined at the most fragile end of the Index by countries that have long struggled, such as Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, and D.R. Congo. However, a lack of change at the most fragile end of the Index (not to mention a similar lack of change at the sustainable end of the Index) belies the significant movement of a number of countries over the past year and indeed the past decade.
Where it’s Getting Better
Much of the movement in the 2015 Index has been largely in sync with the headlines of the past year, adds the report:
Cuba ….has managed to be one of the three most improved countries of 2015, and also the most improved country of the past decade. Cuba is joined by Portugal and Georgia as the most improved countries, all having improved their scores by 3.4 points in the space of a year. Notably, Cuba was among the most improved countries in 2014, and Georgia was the most improved country previously in 2011, suggesting both countries are enjoying a rapid long-term trend of improvement.
Some of the largest falls in security and stability over recent years have been in the Middle East and North Africa. Over the last decade, the biggest declines in state fragility were in Cuba, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.
Seven of the ten most fragile countries in the world are in Africa, notes David Shinn:
In order, they are South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and Guinea. Rankings for other countries in the Horn of Africa are Ethiopia (20), Kenya (21), Eritrea (24), and Djibouti (40).
The Fund for Peace promotes sustainable security through research, training and education, engagement of civil society, building bridges across diverse sectors, and developing innovative technologies and tools for policy makers.