Reflecting on State Pressures in 2014


Reflecting on State Pressures in 2014

29 Jun 2015

Deepening instability in many countries across the world, particularly in the Middle East with rise of ISIS, dominate the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index. The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics draws out the key points.

The Fund for Peace published its 11th annual Fragile States Index on 18 June 2015, finding that while some of the most fragile countries continue to worsen, the most stable countries are improving.

The Index studies 178 countries, measuring a number of social, economic, and political indicators, ranking the findings, and producing a score from very high, indicating high pressure on the state, to very low, indicating low pressure on the state.

In a year that has seen a growing number of intense conflict situations across the world, particularly involving transnational groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, the Index proves interesting reading from a religion and geopolitics perspective.

Fragile countries worsening and stable countries improving.

The Fund for Peace use a wide range of indicators to measure the state of stability of countries across the world, including demographic pressures, the number of refugees and internal displaced people (IDPs), group grievances, and human rights. These include pressures and measures related to communal, sectarian, ethnic, and religious violence. Additionally there are measures related civil liberties, political freedoms and religious persecution.

The Index finds that for the second year in a row, South Sudan is the world's most fragile state, due to internal conflict and poverty. However, countries which have suffered from long-running conflicts, and insurgencies from Islamist militants also appear on the 'very high alert' end of the Index, including Somalia, which has seen ongoing attacks by al-Shabaab militants and the Central African Republic, which has seen displacement and internal conflict caused by fighting between the mainly Christian Antibalaka and the majority Muslim Seleka insurgent groups.

There are a number of countries, which have seen worsening conflict situations over the past year, this is topped by Ukraine, but closely followed by Libya and Syria. In Libya there has been an escalation in fighting with ISIS potentially becoming a third force in the region.

The ongoing civil war in Syria, not surprisingly, has led to the deterioration of the situation in the country, including the rapid advance of ISIS through Iraq and into Syria in 2014, and with almost 8 million people now internally displaced in the country, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Other countries with worsening situations, according to the Index, include Mali, Nigeria, India, Iraq and Yemen.

The Index reflects on the conflict situations in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, which has seen worsening human rights, security and governance structures, and suggests that there is unlikely to be any change in this over the next 12 months. It also singles out Nigeria, a country that has faced an increasing number of attacks by Boko Haram, but managed to proceed with elections in March 2015.

The Index highlights under-reported issues, such as 'forced conversions' to Hinduism in India. 

A point that the Index makes well, and one that Religion & Geopolitics also strives to achieve, is to underscore the importance of issues in countries that are not always prominent in media reporting, such as in India. The Index notes that even though 2014 saw the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country was amongst the ten most worsened countries last year, caused by what the report describes as the "simmering ethnic, religious and social tensions" in the country. The Index singles out the close ties that Narendra Modi has had with nationalist Hindu groups, and the reports earlier in 2015 of 'forced mass conversions' of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism, referred to as Ghar Vapsi, or "homecoming" ceremonies.

The findings from this year's Index also suggests that there is some hope, with 108 countries having improved their scores since the previous year, and Finland again tops the Index as being the only very sustainable country.

With the Fragile States Index now in its tenth year, the Fund for Peace also looks at a decade of trends, and although some countries were not included in the first Index, the analysis finds that four countries have overall seen a "critical worsening" in pressures on the state, these being Libya, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea Bissau. Countries that have seen "significant improvement" are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Indonesia, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Russia.

The Fragile States Index is another important measure for assessing the state of nations around the world, especially when the factors that are considered use such a wide-ranging set of indicators, from economics to religious tensions. The Global Peace Index 2015, also released in June 2015, found similar findings to the Fragile States Index, where the most peaceful countries are becoming more peaceful, and the least becoming less peaceful, whilst also noting the rise of transnational groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, and the effect this is having on stability in these countries. 

Key Findings: Unstable Countries

Very High Alert

South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan

High Alert:

Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe

Key Findings: Stable Countries

Very Sustainable



Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal

You can read the full report here.

This article summarises an external report, and is not to be taken as the view of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.


Sign up to receive the Roundup

Sign up to the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' Roundup to receive weekly updates with the latest commentary, analysis and news on the role of religion in conflict zones. Sign up here.

Fund for Peace