.
T

oday, Diplomatic Courier is thrilled to announce our partnership with Good Country Index (GCI) creator Simon Anholt for the launch of the fifth iteration of the GCI. We are also pleased to announce the launch of a new channel, entitled: “Good Country: The End of the Selfish State.”

Read the new edition of the Good Country Index for free here and review the data here.

For those new to GCI, the index is essentially a balance sheet measuring what individual countries contribute to the world outside versus what they take away. Measurements are taken from UN data across seven categories: Science and Technology, Culture, International Peace and Security, World Order, Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing. In this latest edition of the GCI, data is taken from pre-pandemic 2020, the most recent year available. Sweden came out with the highest ranking—the first time a country has been ranked first for a second time—with Scandinavian countries dominating the top ten places. 

When Diplomatic Courier began exploring a partnership with GCI, we understandably had questions about the rankings. Most of these questions have been addressed by Simon Anholt over the years, and you can find them here. For us, a couple of the questions were critical so, we are addressing them here. 

Interrogating the GCI

We wanted to be clear about the rankings. Why is it that richer, whiter countries place so highly? Are the metrics biased? Everything, again, is taken from UN data and thus was self-reported by UN member states. GCI has scaled those results to coincide with state capacity, measured by GDP (and you can find a discussion of ‘Why GDP?’ in the FAQs.) Categories are influenced by some structural factors of capacity—for instance you lose points in International Peace and Security if you export violence. Some governments don’t have great control of their borders and groups within those borders could bring violence elsewhere—then there are questions of unsanctioned arms trafficking and so on. But, to a large extent, rankings have a lot to do with choices. Even extremely poor countries spend hundreds of millions on marketing themselves and may make any number of other suboptimal decisions with the money available to them—either by mistake or design.

We also had questions about the appearance of a sort of paternalistic noblesse oblige. Does the GCI aim to teach poorer countries the “proper” conduct necessary to emulate Western success? This is a tricky one, because it is quite easy for those in a favorable situation to unwittingly adopt this sort of role toward those in a less favorable situation. First, it’s important to note that there are several non-Western countries with quite different ideas of governance and economic policy that score well; from Japan and Singapore to Georgia and Malaysia to South Africa and Tunisia. 

Beyond that, Mr. Anholt’s explanation is that the GCI is not really about pronouncements. Instead, it’s intended to spark conversations. How can governments make the best use of what resources are available to them to minimize harm they do and maximize constructive things they do for what we might term the global commons?  

This brings us to a very important question—who cares? Why should governments who are ranked low care that they’re ranked low, and what should our readers take away? Ultimately, the point of the GCI is to combat marginalization, a concept that Mr. Anholt explores in his book Good Country Equation, a number of copies of which he is making available to Diplomatic Courier readers (use code: courier). This is accomplished, for Good Country, not through Western guilt-motivated aid but through a rethink of attitudes, values, and behaviors that are shown to actually empower governments and improve outcomes. Rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns to convince tourists and investors that you’re a prime destination, investing in “governmental social responsibility” has a greater dollar-for-dollar impact when it comes to improving image and thus enhancing trade, tourism, investment, diplomacy, cultural relations, and so on. 

GCI Helps the Future Arrive Well

At Diplomatic Courier’s sibling org, World in 2050, we talk a lot about “helping the future arrive well.” At Diplomatic Courier, part of our mission is to elevate marginalized perspectives and analyses. The GCI’s mission is directly in line with both of these goals, and we’re proud of this partnership. We urge you to check out the new content that’s being published in our new “Good Country” channel and decide for yourself what you think. If you have questions, criticisms, or ideas on improving the GCI, well we’d all love to hear from you. One of the most reassuring things Mr. Anholt told us about the GCI is that while an argument for a new take on enlightened self-interest is core to the index, there are no claims here on a final answer to anything. The GCI is presented to the world to create new discussions that invite comments and contributions rather than as an attempt to sell its methodology and message as the way forward.

It could—and we think it does—point in the right direction. We hope you think so too, and we hope you’ll help us think about how to navigate more precisely toward a world where states do better for themselves by being better global citizens, even as they compete.

About
Shane Szarkowski
:
Dr. Shane Szarkowski is Managing Editor of Diplomatic Courier and the Executive Director of World in 2050. A Marine Corps Veteran, he is an experienced editor and analyst with expertise in energy, security, and state failure. Follow him on Twitter @ShaneSzarkowski.
About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Announcing New Channel - Good Country

Image via Adobe Stock.

March 29, 2022

Diplomatic Courier has partnered with Simon Anholt to launch the fifth edition of the Good Country Index as well as a new channel entitled "Good Country: The End of the Selfish State." In this introduction, DC's editorial staff talks about the GCI and how it synergizes with our mission.

T

oday, Diplomatic Courier is thrilled to announce our partnership with Good Country Index (GCI) creator Simon Anholt for the launch of the fifth iteration of the GCI. We are also pleased to announce the launch of a new channel, entitled: “Good Country: The End of the Selfish State.”

Read the new edition of the Good Country Index for free here and review the data here.

For those new to GCI, the index is essentially a balance sheet measuring what individual countries contribute to the world outside versus what they take away. Measurements are taken from UN data across seven categories: Science and Technology, Culture, International Peace and Security, World Order, Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing. In this latest edition of the GCI, data is taken from pre-pandemic 2020, the most recent year available. Sweden came out with the highest ranking—the first time a country has been ranked first for a second time—with Scandinavian countries dominating the top ten places. 

When Diplomatic Courier began exploring a partnership with GCI, we understandably had questions about the rankings. Most of these questions have been addressed by Simon Anholt over the years, and you can find them here. For us, a couple of the questions were critical so, we are addressing them here. 

Interrogating the GCI

We wanted to be clear about the rankings. Why is it that richer, whiter countries place so highly? Are the metrics biased? Everything, again, is taken from UN data and thus was self-reported by UN member states. GCI has scaled those results to coincide with state capacity, measured by GDP (and you can find a discussion of ‘Why GDP?’ in the FAQs.) Categories are influenced by some structural factors of capacity—for instance you lose points in International Peace and Security if you export violence. Some governments don’t have great control of their borders and groups within those borders could bring violence elsewhere—then there are questions of unsanctioned arms trafficking and so on. But, to a large extent, rankings have a lot to do with choices. Even extremely poor countries spend hundreds of millions on marketing themselves and may make any number of other suboptimal decisions with the money available to them—either by mistake or design.

We also had questions about the appearance of a sort of paternalistic noblesse oblige. Does the GCI aim to teach poorer countries the “proper” conduct necessary to emulate Western success? This is a tricky one, because it is quite easy for those in a favorable situation to unwittingly adopt this sort of role toward those in a less favorable situation. First, it’s important to note that there are several non-Western countries with quite different ideas of governance and economic policy that score well; from Japan and Singapore to Georgia and Malaysia to South Africa and Tunisia. 

Beyond that, Mr. Anholt’s explanation is that the GCI is not really about pronouncements. Instead, it’s intended to spark conversations. How can governments make the best use of what resources are available to them to minimize harm they do and maximize constructive things they do for what we might term the global commons?  

This brings us to a very important question—who cares? Why should governments who are ranked low care that they’re ranked low, and what should our readers take away? Ultimately, the point of the GCI is to combat marginalization, a concept that Mr. Anholt explores in his book Good Country Equation, a number of copies of which he is making available to Diplomatic Courier readers (use code: courier). This is accomplished, for Good Country, not through Western guilt-motivated aid but through a rethink of attitudes, values, and behaviors that are shown to actually empower governments and improve outcomes. Rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns to convince tourists and investors that you’re a prime destination, investing in “governmental social responsibility” has a greater dollar-for-dollar impact when it comes to improving image and thus enhancing trade, tourism, investment, diplomacy, cultural relations, and so on. 

GCI Helps the Future Arrive Well

At Diplomatic Courier’s sibling org, World in 2050, we talk a lot about “helping the future arrive well.” At Diplomatic Courier, part of our mission is to elevate marginalized perspectives and analyses. The GCI’s mission is directly in line with both of these goals, and we’re proud of this partnership. We urge you to check out the new content that’s being published in our new “Good Country” channel and decide for yourself what you think. If you have questions, criticisms, or ideas on improving the GCI, well we’d all love to hear from you. One of the most reassuring things Mr. Anholt told us about the GCI is that while an argument for a new take on enlightened self-interest is core to the index, there are no claims here on a final answer to anything. The GCI is presented to the world to create new discussions that invite comments and contributions rather than as an attempt to sell its methodology and message as the way forward.

It could—and we think it does—point in the right direction. We hope you think so too, and we hope you’ll help us think about how to navigate more precisely toward a world where states do better for themselves by being better global citizens, even as they compete.

About
Shane Szarkowski
:
Dr. Shane Szarkowski is Managing Editor of Diplomatic Courier and the Executive Director of World in 2050. A Marine Corps Veteran, he is an experienced editor and analyst with expertise in energy, security, and state failure. Follow him on Twitter @ShaneSzarkowski.
About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.