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Assessing State Fragility with a Focus on Climate Change and Refugees: 2016 Country Indicators for Foreign Policy Report

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Executive Summary

This Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP) report provides a global fragility ranking for a total of 198 countries using 2014 data. South Sudan tops the list of most fragile countries according to CIFP's ranking, followed closely by Somalia, the Central African Republic, Yemen, and Sudan. Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Iraq, and Syria round up our top 10. The majority of the top 20 most fragile states are located in Sub-Saharan Africa, a finding that is consistent with our historical data. The rest are in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), namely Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza, and in Central and South Asia, namely Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A year-over-year comparison with CIFP's previous rankings shows that Somalia, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Sudan, and South Sudan rank consistently among the top poor performers and usually almost always within the top five for several years. These are countries that we would typically characterise as being trapped in fragility. Furthermore, it should be noted that most countries in the top 20 in the 2013 ranking have remained in the top 20 for the 2014 and 2015 rankings, confirming the persistence of fragility over time. This finding was detailed in our 2012 Fragility Report.

On the other side of the ledger, Côte d'Ivoire (39th), Niger (21st), Zimbabwe (25th), Mauritania (33rd), and Kenya (26th) have moved out of the top 20, suggesting modest improvements in their performance over the last several years. Côte d'Ivoire and Mauritania, in particular, have even moved out of the top 30.

This report also provides a composite analysis of fragility using the Authority, Legitimacy, and Capacity (ALC) cluster scores. The ALC assessment enables us to evaluate the different characteristics of stateness, namely in terms of identifying the sources and extent of both weaknesses and strengths; it also assists policymakers in their decisions on where and how to engage by providing additional nuance to the question of fragility.

South Sudan now tops the list of authority-challenged fragile states, a result that is indicative of the political uncertainties that have taken place in that country. Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, and Yemen round up the top five in the authority category. For the legitimacy rankings, Central African Republic, Eritrea, and Somalia top the list, with Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan also showing up in the top 20. As has been the case historically, the worst performers in the capacity rankings are from Sub-Saharan Africa; 16 countries out of the 20 in that category are from that region.

The remainder of this report examines trends in fragility, with a focus on refugees and on climate change. We highlight these linkages because of recent claims suggesting that the crisis in the Levant is to some extent driven by loss of arable land and drought. Similar assertions have been made regarding increasing weaknesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia for example places 11th overall and in the top 10 for Sub-Saharan Africa.