Fragile and Conflict-Affected States (FCAS) remain more relevant than ever. After a brief period of declining fragility coinciding with a slow economic recovery since the 2008 global financial crisis, conflicts, violence and fragility are on the rise again. In the last decade or so, we have seen an increase in armed conflicts and violence around the world, a worrying reversal from the trend observed since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s.
Specifically, conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – in Iraq, Syria and Yemen – have imposed a heavy burden on civilians in terms of casualties and forced displacements. For the fourth consecutive year, South Sudan tops the list of most fragile, if not failed, states and is in an unenviable position that had been historically occupied by Somalia. Chad, Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Yemen Republic make up the top five. Ranks five to ten are occupied, in order, by Eritrea, Sudan, Mali, Afghanistan and Niger. Noteworthy among this list is Eritrea, which enters the top 10 for the first time this year, in line with a trend of global deterioration in its fragility score. This report also provides a methodology for tracking backsliding among states.
Our analysis finds that there is a tendency for the some of the most fragile states to experience swings and oscillations in democratic performance over time, closely transitioning along the lower portion of a J-curve of stability vs. openness. It also illustrates the considerable transitional barrier that separates closed authoritative states, herein characterized as brittle, from open democratic states.
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