Although there is growing awareness in the development field of the need to better assess fragile states and customise policies to their particular needs, there has been limited progress in these areas. The new Country Fragility Assessment Framework, which systematically examines the societal and institutional sources of fragility, can help decision-makers make more precise diagnoses and better target interventions. It builds on the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, but offers a more comprehensive framework to assess the forces that can drive a society together or apart. It does this by analysing 12 societal and institutional sources of fragility. The combination of poor social cohesion and poor institutionalisation yields a vicious cycle as instability and underdevelopment feed each other. Social divisions hamper efforts to improve governance and foster economic opportunity, which in turn create discontent and a zero-sum struggle for power and resources. As such, change must target one of these two elements. Even though the framework does not directly provide solutions, it can be used to suggest policy options that are most likely to work, or at least rule out some that will surely fail.