Problems of the Rainbow Nation Viewed Across the Full Spectrum

BY J.J. MESSNER

Over the past decade, the Rainbow Nation has also traversed much of the color spectrum on the Fragile States Index (FSI) map. Though our color palette is simply representative of a country’s score – green to blue for the most stable, yellow to deep red for the most fragile – the changing colors of South Africa on that map during the past decade has served as a stark visual demonstration of the country’s rapid decline. From the bright green of (relative) Stability in 2007 through to the yellow-orange of the Warning category in 2017 – as the country faces social, economic, and political turmoil.

It is important to contextualize just how far South Africa has declined over the past decade. In 2007, the FSI ranked South Africa at 132nd on a score of 57.4; in 2017, South Africa has rocketed up the rankings to 96th position, on a score of 72.3. Of all 178 countries that FSI assesses, South Africa is the sixth most worsened country over the past decade. To be even clearer, with the exception of Senegal, South Africa is the most worsened country not in active conflict or civil war.

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And Now for Some Good News: Where the World is Getting Better

BY DANIEL GANZ

The most fragile — and the most worsened — countries tend to attract the most attention in the Fragile States Index (FSI). However, the reality is that the majority of countries are improving based on the FSI’s trends, and a number of countries have made considerable progress in the past decade based on their FSI scores. These examples demonstrate that a long-term commitment to peace and reconciliation, poverty reduction, and economic growth collectively contributes to a government’s legitimization, and ultimately, the stability of its country.

Since his rise to power ten years ago, Cuba’s leader Raul Castro has accomplished more to improve Cuba-U.S. relations, usher in modern technologies, and stimulate its economy than his brother had done in the previous half a century. These incremental changes in Cuba’s political, economic, and social landscapes contributed to the historic events of 2016 that included the US easing trade restrictions to Cuba, diplomatic ties between the EU and Cuba were established, and President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country in 88 years.

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Colombia Enjoys a Peace Dividend After Half-Century of Conflict

BY CHRISTINA MURPHY

Colombia captured international headlines and accolades in 2016 when the government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This victory for President Juan Manuel Santos’ government marked the beginning of the end for one of the world’s longest running civil wars. Although the deal was narrowly rejected by Colombian voters in October 2016, the Colombian Congress approved a revised deal in November.

The conflict between the Colombian government, the FARC, and other guerilla and paramilitary groups has taken a devastating toll on Colombia over the past half-century. More than 220,000 people were killed between 1958 and 2012, mainly civilians, and more than 7 million people have been displaced by the conflict. Estimates suggest that the conflict also cost the country billions in lost economic growth.

While the agreement was a major win for the country in 2016, it comes on the heels of a much longer trajectory of improving governance and legitimacy in Colombia. In fact, Colombia has been steadily improving every year since the FSI began, from a total score of 91.8 and ranking of 27 in 2006, to being ranked 69th in 2017 with a score of 78.9.

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Cracks in the Foundation: United States and United Kingdom

BY NATE HAKEN

Society is more resilient to shocks when social, economic, political and security pressures are manageable. However, an improving economy does not guarantee social and political cohesion.

The United States is a case in point. In 2016, unemployment (at 4.9%) was at a 9-year low; GDP per capita (at US$57,500) was at an all-time high; public services, including healthcare, had been improving for the most at-risk populations since 2013. And yet in 2016, two key indicators — Factionalized Elites and Group Grievance — spiked to unprecedented levels during and after a vitriolic presidential election campaign in which polarizing rhetoric was used about Muslims and immigrants, and a series of high-profile police shootings sparked protests across the country, exacerbating racial tensions in African-American communities.

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Fragile States Index 2017 – Annual Report

BY J.J. MESSNER, NATE HAKEN, HANNAH BLYTH, CHRISTINA MURPHY, AMANDA QUINN, GEORGE LEHNER, DANIEL GANZ

The Fragile States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Fragile States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.

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#Vacancy!
We are looking for a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Intern.
Location: Port Harcourt
More here https://t.co/CJucBzph3u

Luis’ clothes are his only possessions. He collects aluminium cans to earn enough to just get by. #Bottom100 https://t.co/4cRINbn1G6

Joseph had lost nearly everything … and now he stands to lose his sight. #Bottom100 https://t.co/7KjEsHM1TM