Ukraine faced a crisis. Nigeria passed a test. And the Islamic State and Ebola left indelible marks. How 2014’s success stories and struggles affected state — and global — stability last year and set the stage for 2015.
In today’s interconnected world, crises are rarely confined by borders. Over the course of a year, the strength and vitality of a country can be shaken, sometimes to its bedrock, by the tumult of its neighbors, and 2014 was no exception. Russia’s aggression affected Ukraine — but it also reverberated across the rest of Europe. The Ebola crisis was centered in West Africa, but tested the responses of governments around the world. And spiraling conflicts in Iraq and Syria cut deeper cracks of instability throughout the broader Middle East.
For 11 years now, the Fragile States Index, created by the Fund for Peace and published by Foreign Policy, has taken stock of the year’s events, using 12 social, economic, and political indicators to analyze how wars, peace accords, environmental calamities, and political movements have pushed countries towards stability or closer to the brink of collapse. The index then ranks the countries accordingly, from most fragile to least.
Some of 2014’s findings aren’t at all surprising: Indeed, Ukraine, Syria, and Libya were among the countries to worsen most dramatically in the index’s rankings this year, as fighting tore through their cities and villages. Russia’s economy stumbled under the weight of heavy sanctions, causing it to rise 20 slots in the overall rankings. And Mali, facing a rebel insurgency and an outbreak of Ebola, saw the fifth-biggest overall increase in its score.
But there are some bright spots. Three countries — Cuba, Georgia, and Portugal — all improved their scores by 3.4 points, the largest margin in 2015. After normalizing relations with the United States, Cuba shifted five spots in the rankings, moving from 107 to 112. Georgia’s encouraging economic prospects bumped its overall ranking from 63 to 70. Portugal exited the international bailout program it had requested in 2010, regaining economic sovereignty, and aiding its standing on the index. Finally, Nigeria, despite a growing and violent insurgency in its northeast and shrinking oil revenues, appears to have weathered a handful of obstacles with surprising resilience.
From revolutions to epidemics, from elections to leaps forward for human rights, here’s what 2014 looked like for the countries of the world.
…. The full results of Fund For Peace 2015 Fragile State Index can be found here.