Fragile States Index

The Fragile States Index (FSI; formerly the Failed States Index) is an annual report published by the United States think tank the Fund for Peace and the American magazine Foreign Policy since 2005. The list aims to assess states' vulnerability to conflict or collapse, ranking all sovereign states with membership in the United Nations where there is enough data available for analysis.[1] Taiwan, the Palestinian Territories, Northern Cyprus, Kosovo and Western Sahara are not ranked, despite being recognised as sovereign by one or more other nations. Ranking is based on the sum of scores for 12 indicators (see below). Each indicator is scored on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest intensity (most stable) and 10 being the highest intensity (least stable), creating a scale spanning 0−120.[1]

Fragile States according to the "Fragile States Index", 2005–2013
  No Information / Dependent Territory


The index's ranks are based on twelve indicators of state vulnerability, grouped by category: Cohesion, Economic, Political, Social.[2]

Scores are obtained via a process involving content analysis, quantitative data, and qualitative review. In the content analysis phase, millions of documents from over 100,000 English-language or translated sources (social media are excluded)[3] are scanned and filtered through the Fund for Peace's Conflict Assessment Systems Tool (CAST), which utilizes specific filters and search parameters to sort data based on Boolean phrases linked to indicators, and assigns scores based on algorithms.[4] Following CAST analysis, quantitative data from sources such as the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), World Factbook, Transparency International, World Bank, and Freedom House are incorporated, which then leads to the final phase of qualitative reviews of each indicator for each country.[3]

Considered together in the index, the indicators are a way of assessing a state's vulnerability to collapse or conflict, ranking states on a spectrum of categories labeled sustainable, stable, warning, and alert. Within each bracket, scores are also subdivided by severity. The score breakdown[5] is as follows:

Category FSI score* Brackets (2016) 2015–2016 color 2005–2014 color
Alert 90.0–120.0 Very high: 110+

High: 100–109.9

Alert: 90–99.9

Red Red
Warning 60.0–89.9 High: 80–89.9

Warning: 70–79.9

Low: 60–69.9

Yellow-Orange Orange
Stable 30.0–59.9 Less stable: 50–59.9

Stable: 40–49.9

More stable: 30–39.9

Green Yellow
Sustainable 0.0–29.9 Sustainable: 20–29.9

Very sustainable: 0–19.9

Blue Green
Not assessed N/A Light gray Light gray

All countries in the top three categories display features that make their societies and institutions vulnerable to failure. However, the FSI is not intended as a tool to predict when states may experience violence or collapse, as it does not measure direction or pace of change. It is possible for a state sorted into the 'stable' zone to be deteriorating at a faster rate than those in the more fragile 'warning' or 'alert' zones, and could experience violence sooner. Conversely, states in the red zone, though fragile, may exhibit positive signs of recovery or be deteriorating slowly, giving them time to adopt mitigating strategies.[5]


Twelve conflict risk indicators are used to measure the condition of a state at any given moment. The indicators provide a snapshot in time that can be measured against other snapshots in a time series to determine whether conditions are improving or worsening. Below is the list of indicators used both in the CAST framework and also in the Fragile States Index.[6]

  • Security Apparatus
  • Factionalized Elites
  • Group Grievance
  • Economic Decline and Property
  • Uneven Economic Development
  • Human Flight and Brain Drain
  • State Legitimacy
  • Public Services
  • Human Rights and Rule of Law
  • Demographic Pressures
  • Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
  • External Intervention

Fragile states list

See List of countries by Fragile States Index for rank of countries in different years.



Years of controversy over the "failed state" terminology in the index's name contributed to change in 2014, with a shift from the Failed States Index to the Fragile States Index. Critics had argued that the term established a false binary division, or false dichotomy, between states that were salvageable and those that were beyond recovery.[7][8] Krista Hendry, FFP's executive director, explained the change in part as a reaction to the debate the term failed state had generated, noting that "the name was negatively impacting our ability to get the right kind of attention for the FSI".[9]


Several academics and journalists have also criticised the FSI for a lack of utility and its measurement criteria. Authors writing for The National Interest and The Washington Post have argued that the FSI sends a message that the solution to problems in the developing world is "more state-building",[10][11] when in fact state-building could be viewed as a cause of instability or fragility. Claire Leigh, writing for The Guardian in 2012, condemned the index as a "useless policy tool" which focused only on the symptoms of struggling states, ignoring causes or potential cures.[7]


Critics have also identified flaws with the FSI's measurement criteria, as well as the lack of transparency surrounding its base data analysis.[10][12] For example, indicators related to refugees and human flight have allowed North Korea's score to improve as human emigration has declined;[13] while this may indicate a stronger security apparatus in the state, it should not necessarily be recognised as an improvement.[12] Additionally, analysis of the indicators has led several commentators to conclude that a combination of too many categories and a failure to distinguish between "government" and "state" (sometimes allowing political moves, such as Iran agreeing to negotiations with the West, to positively impact a score) complicates efforts to utilise findings.[10][14][15] Several have argued for greater transparency in scoring methods,[7][10] a reworking of the criteria to give the index predictive value,[10] and a consolidation of indicators into umbrella groups for easier comparison.[15]

Related indices

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has based its annual Fragile States Report, now named ‘States of Fragility,’[16] on the FSI, as well as on data from the World Bank (which publishes its own lists of fragile states[17]), since 2005.[18]

On a monthly basis, International Crisis Group (ICG), a transnational non-governmental organization (NGO), publishes CrisisWatch, a bulletin designed to inform readers about the development of state-based conflict across the globe. The reports indicate whether or not situations have improved, deteriorated, or remained unchanged from the previous month, and seek to highlight where there may be risks of new/escalated (or opportunities for resolution of) conflicts in the coming month.[19]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Failed States FAQ". the Fund for Peace. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  2. ^ "Failed States list 2007". Foreign Policy magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  3. ^ a b "What Methodology Was Used for the Ratings? | The Fund for Peace". Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  4. ^ "Methodology | The Fund for Peace". Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  5. ^ a b "What do the Colors and Categories in the Index and on the Map Signify? | The Fund for Peace". Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  6. ^ "CAST Conflict Assessment Framework Manual | The Fund for Peace". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  7. ^ a b c Leigh, Claire (2012-07-02). "Failed States Index belongs in the policy dustbin". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  8. ^ "The Failure of the Failed States Index | World Policy Institute". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  9. ^ "From Failed to Fragile: Renaming the Index". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  10. ^ a b c d e Beehner, Lionel; Young, Joseph (2014-07-14). "Is ranking failed or fragile states a futile business?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  11. ^ Evers, Miles M. "The Fatally Flawed Fragile States Index". The National Interest. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  12. ^ a b "Fragile is the New Failure". Political Violence @ a Glance. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  13. ^ "North Korea | The Fund for Peace". Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  14. ^ "Why the Failed State Index is a fail". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  15. ^ a b "2009 Failed States Index – Disorder in the Ranks". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  16. ^ "States of Fragility 2015 - Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions - en - OECD". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  17. ^ "Fragility, Conflict and Violence". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  18. ^ "States of Fragility Report - OECD". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  19. ^ "CrisisWatch - International Crisis Group". Archived from the original on 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
Failed state

A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly (see also fragile state and state collapse). A state can also fail if the government loses its legitimacy even if it is performing its functions properly. For a stable state it is necessary for the government to enjoy both effectiveness and legitimacy. Likewise, when a nation weakens and its standard of living declines, it introduces the possibility of total governmental collapse. The Fund for Peace characterizes a failed state as having the following characteristics:

Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein

Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions

Inability to provide public services

Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international communityCommon characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has an inability to raise taxes or other support, and has little practical control over much of its territory and hence there is a non-provision of public services. When this happens, widespread corruption and criminality, the intervention of state and non-state actors, the appearance of refugees and the involuntary movement of populations, sharp economic decline, and foreign military intervention can occur.The level of government control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities. Furthermore, the declaration that a state has "failed" is generally controversial and, when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences.

Fund for Peace

The Fund for Peace is a US non-profit, non-governmental research and educational institution. Founded in 1957, FFP "works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security."

The Fund for Peace works towards sustainable security and development in failed states by focusing on conflict assessment and early warning, transnational threats, peacekeeping, and security and human rights. The Fund for Peace maintains programs in Nigeria, Uganda, Liberia, and works with private business in conflict zones to better secure the interests of businesses, local populations, and their governments.

FFP publishes the annual Fragile States Index, used by researchers, educators, and governments across the world.

International rankings of Canada

These are various international rankings of Canada.

International rankings of Cuba

The following are international rankings of Cuba.

International rankings of Hungary

These are the international rankings of Hungary.

International rankings of Kazakhstan

These are the international rankings of Kazakhstan.

International rankings of Mauritius

These are the international rankings of Mauritius.

International rankings of Nepal

These are the international rankings of Nepal

International rankings of North Korea

North Korea ranks as the least democratic country in the world in The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, while The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal's Index of Economic Freedom places the country as the one with least economic freedom. According to the Press Freedom Index, North Korea has the least free press in the world.

According to the Walk Free Foundation's Global Slavery Index, North Korea has the highest proportion of people in modern slavery. The Open Doors foundation's World Watch List lists the country as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.

International rankings of Norway

International rankings of Norway

International rankings of the United Kingdom

These are the international rankings of the United Kingdom.

Legatum Prosperity Index

The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute, a division of the private investment firm Legatum. The ranking is based on a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth, education, health, personal well-being, and quality of life. In the 2018 rankings, 149 countries were ranked, and Norway topped the list, followed by New Zealand and Finland. Afghanistan was on the last place. In 2013, twenty-seven of the top 30 countries were democracies.

List of countries by Fragile States Index

This is a list of countries by order of appearance in the Fragile States Index (formerly the Failed States Index) of the United States think tank Fund for Peace.

A fragile state has several attributes. Common indicators include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline. Since 2005, the index has been published annually by the Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy. The list has been cited by journalists and academics in making broad comparative points about countries or regions.This is the list for 2018, with comparisons of each country's current score to previous years' indices.

The report uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation, including security threats, economic implosion, human rights violations and refugee flows.

List of international rankings

This is a list of international rankings.

South Sudan

South Sudan ( (listen)), officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. The country gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, making it the newest country with widespread recognition. Its capital and largest city is Juba.

South Sudan is bordered by Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest and the Central African Republic to the west. It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal, meaning "Mountain Sea". Sudan was occupied by Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty and was governed as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium until Sudanese independence in 1956. Following the First Sudanese Civil War, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed in 1972 and lasted until 1983. A second Sudanese civil war soon broke out, ending in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Later that year, southern autonomy was restored when an Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was formed. South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, following 98.83% support for independence in a January 2011 referendum.South Sudan has a population of 12 million, mostly of the Nilotic peoples. Christianity is the majority religion. In September 2017 the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict said that half of South Sudan's inhabitants are under 18 years old. It is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. In July 2012, South Sudan signed the Geneva Conventions. South Sudan has suffered ethnic violence and has been in a civil war since 2013. As of 2018, South Sudan ranks third lowest in the latest UN World Happiness Report, and has the highest score on the American Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index (formerly the Failed States Index).

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