There is one certitude: the world as we know it today will not be the same tomorrow. Democratic elections, economic crises, migrations, military conflicts, natural disasters and technological revolutions keep disrupting the world as we know it, keep changing the rules of the game. Our generation is at the heart of those changes: upon our shoulders weights the necessity to define the future we want to live in. Older generations must leave space for and guide us towards the achievement of our ambitions, the creation of an environment that allows us to thrive not only as individuals, not only as a society, but as a species.
However, a great number of young people tend to feel more and more disconnected or misrepresented by their political leaders, who do not necessarily allow for an inter-generational collaboration to happen, who do not automatically seek the advancement of humanity. We have seen and continue to see leaders that are eager to ride a wave of fear and hatred of the other only to their own benefit. What if this context meant the end of the political agenda as we know it, the end of public policy defined arbitrarily by a few leaders? What if the new generations could be guiding the executive branch towards what they consider essential to their future, giving them grades to teach them how to rule?
By rating 127 countries of the world through a rigorous, impartial and transparent quantitative analysis, our generation provides a guideline for the executive branch to follow in each country. The GGI, like a school report, intends to show what we deemed satisfactory with regards to public policy and what governments should improve in their country.
Fault lines and exceptions
First, some interesting observations on the scale of continents can be made, as several countries appear as exceptions when compared to their neighbors.
On the one hand, there are positive exceptions: Costa Rica, a hopeful island amongst governments corrupted by civil wars, political instability and economic struggles in Central America; Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, performing better in our index than the rest of their South American neighbors; or Singapore in South East Asia and Tunisia in North Africa, which are also standing out.
On the other hand, some countries strikingly stick out with their difficulties within continents that tend to perform well in the index. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania are behind the times in Europe when it comes to unity, security and creation. In South East Asia, poverty in Laos and ethnic tensions in Myanmar put the two countries in the worst positions unlike their neighbors. And South Africa suffers from deep inequalities and criminality that rank it far down our index when the other BRICS, namely China, Russia, Brazil and India, are positioned much higher.
Now, clear fault lines between the top and the bottom countries can be observed. While Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and New-Zealand manage to create unity among their citizens by providing satisfactory educational, social and economic opportunities without being plagued with corruption, governments in Mozambique, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Chad or Afghanistan fail to do exactly that. Political instability, wars, enduring inequalities, creeping corruption prevent the later ones from offering what young generations consider essential and expect from their political leaders.
While Israel, the United States, France, Norway and Australia provide their citizens with protection with regards to health, to inland security and to freedom of speech, war-torn or economically struggling nations such as the Central African Republic, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Nigeria fail to fulfill their part of the social contract.
While Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Austria invest heavily in creation, in scientific and technological research, in developing their citizens’ capacities and opportunities by granting them access to quality high education, governments of Turkmenistan, Iraq, Angola, Afghanistan and Cuba allocate close to zero resources in this crucial area.
At the top and at the bottom
What makes the top countries so exemplary and the bottom ones so substandard? Unsurprisingly, 8 out of our top 10 governments originate from Northern and Western Europe: Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Germany, Austria and Iceland. The two exceptions are Israel and the U.S.A., which join the above-mentioned European nations in the top positions.
Denmark is the number one country in our index for many obvious reasons. A strong welfare state, educational grants for all students, a strong pluralistic democracy, low levels of public corruption, excellent educational standards and high investment in research are only a few of the reasons why this country holds the top position. Danish citizens seem happy to pay high taxes in order to receive all the benefits they entail. The World Happiness Report even elected it happiest country on earth seven times in a row, highlighting a high quality of life in the country.
Then, Sweden got ranked second thanks to similar vantage points. The Nordic country has been investing great amounts of money and diplomatic efforts into transitioning towards a green economy; it is one of the healthiest countries in Europe; it is aiming at becoming a perfectly equal society by reducing its gender gap and giving generous subsidies to families; and it has managed to diversify and transform its economy over the past decades in order to become a highly innovative nation.
Similarly, Israel has been labeled “start-up nation” as it has produced several technological giants in its own Silicon Valley. Indeed, its governments have been heavily investing in research and development, especially in the fields of new technologies and scientific research. Regarding health, education or per capital income, the Israeli policies provide citizens with quality prospects and institutions. Israel is ranked third in our index despite being at war since its creation with its neighbors, among which some even deny it its right of existence.
Nevertheless, let’s keep in mind that those three countries continue to face many challenges and still have room for improvement.
Unsurprisingly also, the bottom countries are war-torn or politically and economically struggling countries: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad, Venezuela, Angola, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Mali. All of those governments lack all control over, or sometimes even caused, the crises tearing apart their own countries.
For instance, Venezuela had the fourth biggest GDP per capita in the world in 1950. But in 2018, it is one of the countries with the worst and fastest loss in GDP ever witnessed. The oil crisis, the demise of its democracy caused by a corrupt government, the suppression of the citizens’ freedom of speech, the shortage of food or medicine and the exponential hyperinflation are all proofs that the government does not fulfill the expectations of its citizens and even threatens their own existence.
In Iraq, the post-war situation has not improved in the last decades. After the U.S. withdrew its troops from the ground, the country has still been the target of drone strikes from several nations, fomenting radicalism and populism. Talibans and the Islamic State control several regions of the country, the elections organized in the country still suffer from a lack of democratic process, institutions remain weak, corruption and poverty keep preventing a beneficial reconstruction of the country.
The Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have not managed to find stability since their respective independences in 1960. After a violent political takeover in 2013 in the CAR, the country has been the theater of a civil war between violent militias made of religious fundamentalists using populations as human shields. The confrontation between local militias, Islamic extremists, national security forces and other armed groups also threatens the successful realization of domestic peace and security in the DRC. Populations in both countries keep living in a violent, corrupt and poor society that lacks all basic elements of prosperity.
In the end, our index only provides a picture of public policies in a country at a given moment and does not yet take into account an evolution, whether positive or negative, throughout time. Nevertheless, after several of years of such evaluation through the GGI, we will be able to add this missing component and comment whether the situation in a given country improved or worsened. Additionally, the Rising Stars of the world will be given in the next months an opportunity to rate their heads of government through a questionnaire, but most importantly, our generation will tell the world and our leaders whether we are optimistic, pessimistic or neutral about the future of our country.
This survey will also help bring back some more qualitative aspects of public policy that could not be stressed enough in our analysis, because of the way it was computed. Indeed, qualitative elements such as the respect for human rights, and more specifically children’s or women’s rights, the fight against torture and war crimes, the refugee-hosting efforts or the commitment to foster peace and security at the international level can hardly be measured with numbers but they can through qualitative analysis. Our generation will rate leaders, taking into account whether they respect or violate the values we personally hold dear. Nevertheless, it seems overall that countries are rated as “excellent” and “satisfactory” in our index also tend to be the ones respecting international norms regarding human rights and global peace. On the contrary, unstable countries at the bottom of our index lack the internal mechanisms to protect their own citizens and actively participate in global governance.
In conclusion, what the Global Governance Index highlights is the choice governments make when they establish priorities within public policy domains – or, in most cases, the lack of action from governments that do not dare to implement the necessary public policies. We, young generations, are finally giving some grades in order to be heard by those in charge, in order to build the world we want to live in. It’s about time that those in charge hear what we have to say.