Thinking of definitions and labels: There is no official list of fragile states that the entire “international community” agrees upon. The closest to a consensus in the development community (or parts thereof), might be the harmonized WB, AsDB, and AfDB list of fragile states. It is based on two main criteria: CPIA scores (meant to be reflecting the strength of institutions) and the presence of a peacekeeping mission or similar (as a proxy for the monopoly of force). The 2015 “Fragile Situations” list is here. The OECD uses a combination of this list and countries that are in the “alert” and “warning” categories of the Fragile States Index we discussed today. But more important than the list itself and the labels is understanding that (state) fragility is a complex and dynamic concept, that is not easily reduced to a single indicator. This recognition is shaping more and more the work of international and development organizations. As the OECD puts it in its “2015 States of Fragility Report” (bolded emphasis added):
The 2015 report differs markedly from previous editions as it seeks to present a new understanding of fragility beyond fragile states. It assesses fragility as an issue of universal character that can affect all countries, not only those traditionally considered “fragile” or conflict-affected. To do so, it takes three indicators related to targets of SDG 16 and two from the wider SDG framework: violence, access to justice, accountable and inclusive institutions, economic inclusion and stability, and capacities to prevent and adapt to social, economic and environmental shocks and disasters. It applies them to all countries worldwide, and identifies the 50 most vulnerable ones in all five dimensions. The group of countries most challenged on all five fronts differs little from the traditional list of fragile states and economies. Still, several middle-income countries with disproportionately high levels of crime-related violence, sub-national conflict or poor access to justice move into the spotlight.