Fragile States Index Reveals Grievance in Unexpected Places

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What is the most stable country in the world? Which is the most fragile? What determines those qualities? In 2017, South Sudan was ranked the most fragile country by The Fund for Peace, an organization that publishes the Fragile States Index (FSI) every year. Finland was judged the most stable. Measured on 12 indicators based on social, economic and political factors, the Index ranks 178 countries from the most fragile to the least over the past year. It aims to identify potential risk of social and political turmoil and conflict. But what do those numbers mean? And do they really matter? This year, The Cipher Brief is a media partner with the FSI, so Executive Producer Leone Lakhani sat down with JJ Messner, Executive Director of The Fund for Peace, to break down the numbers and explain why the U.S. and UK stuck out in this year’s index.

The Cipher Brief: When you look at the top ten, there’s little difference from last year. Number 1 is South Sudan. Then you have the likes of Somalia, Yemen, Syria, which are not surprising given the volatility they’ve experienced in the last few years. But how much emphasis should we be putting on those rankings? Should we really be looking at those numbers?

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