Audit of Geopolitical Capability


The Audit of Geopolitical Capability 2019 assesses the potential capacity of twenty leading countries – drawn primarily from the Group of Twenty (G20) – to overcome the “tyranny of distance” and influence physical space, including  counterparts located within that space.

The Audit therefore includes: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), as well as Nigeria – Africa’s leading economy and most populous country.

Each country is assessed using a framework based on four components: “national base”, “national structure”, “national instruments” and “national resolve”. It includes 33 different indicators, 62 components and over 1240 potential data observations, combined into a composite score.




In this video, Dr. John Hemmings, Director of the Asia Studies Centre, discusses the findings of the Audit of Geopolitical Capability in relation to the major powers in the Indo-Pacific with James Rogers, Director of the Global Britain Programme







Building on the foundations of its 2017 assessment of the geopolitical capabilities of eight leading powers, the Henry Jackson Society has now created a multi-faceted model covering no fewer than twenty. It is no easy task to consolidate and compare so many factors (some of them, inevitably, subjective) by applying a complex mathematical formula. In compiling and presenting his findings, James Rogers rightly warns against using them as a predictive tool – rather they illustrate the overall potential of nations on the world stage, which may or may not successfully be made actual. As such, his results are a valuable device for making comparisons and identifying trends.

– Rt. Hon. Julian Lewis MP
Chair of the Parliamentary Defence Committee


We’re constantly told that the united Kingdom is a nation in decline. This Audit of Geopolitical Capability shows that we still perform robustly in relation to our counterparts. Very few nations can bring together national capabilities – economy, diplomacy, military, culture – in the way that we do. We just need to work out how to mobilise these capabilities to remain among the world’s leading nations in the twenty-first century.

– Ian Austin MP
Member of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee


This Audit of Geopolitical Capability is a fascinating account of the capabilities of the major powers. It shows that the united Kingdom is well-positioned to confront many of the problems we may face – and is an important read for any politician, civil servant or military officer. It shows where the united Kingdom has particular strengths, as well as weaknesses. If we cultivate our strengths and work on overcoming those weaknesses, there is no reason we cannot remain among the world’s most powerful countries.

– Bob Seely MP
Member of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee


James Rogers’ Audit of Geopolitical Capability of twenty major powers in the world comes as a timely and essential tool for a Global Britain that is finding its way, particularly post Brexit.

– Royston Smith MP
Member of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee




04/01/2019 Telegraph
04/01/2019 Express
04/01/2019 The Sun
04/01/2019 UK Defence Journal
04/01/2019 Sydney Morning Herald
04/01/2019 Guido Fawkes
04/01/2019 The Business Courier  (in Russian)
05/01/2019 The Australian
05/01/2019 Newsweek
05/01/2019 Forces TV
05/01/2019 Sunday Guardian
05/01/2019 Real Clear Defence
05/01/2019 China Times (in Mandarin)
06/01/2019 Morning Star
06/01/2019 Express
07/01/2019 Lowy Institute
07/01/2019 Australian Financial Review
09/01/2019 Defence Connect Australia
11/01/2019 Democracy Digest
13/01/2019 Australian Financial Review
13/01/2019 Denikn (in Czech)
14/01/2019 Australian FInancial Review
14/01/2019 The News Rep
15/01/2019 Chosun (in Korean)
17/01/2019 Express
18/01/2019 Zona Militar (in Spanish)
21/01/2019 Newsweek Korea (in Korean)
25/01/2019 Express




Does the Audit of Geopolitical Capability measure “power”?

The Audit does not measure “power”, if power is understood to be the result of the ability of one country to coerce another into accepting its will.

Does the Audit measure which countries would prevail in military confrontation?

Given that most major powers are armed with nuclear weapons and global guaranteed second-strike capabilities, world war has been rendered all but unthinkable. Thus, the Audit is not necessarily designed to reveal each major power’s war-fighting potential, even though the military component – “military might” – accounts for 15% of the overall score.

What, then, does the Audit measure?

The Audit measures “geopolitical capability”, defined as “the ability of a country to overcome the ‘tyranny of distance’ and influence physical space, including counterparts located within that space.” Consequently, it measures the potential capacity of a country to exercise geopolitical influence under contemporary global conditions, rather than its power.

What is meant by “contemporary global conditions”?

The Audit embraces the definition of the current international system as outlined by Gavin Williamson, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, in the House of Commons in December 2018:

We are in a period of constant aggressive competition between states, often developing into undeclared confrontation and, in some cases, proxy conflicts… Peer and near-peer states are investing heavily in both conventional and emerging technologies, and are increasingly adopting hybrid or asymmetric approaches to gain advantage… All this means that the challenges to our national security and prosperity – and to our allies’ and partners’ security and prosperity – are increasingly complex, ambiguous, destabilising and potentially catastrophic.

Does the Audit measure the “quantity” or “quality” of a country’s geopolitical capability?

Depending on the indicator, the Audit measures both, insofar as either can determine a major power’s geopolitical capability.

How are the Audit’s indicators combined into a composite score?

Data is “scaled” to make it comparable, in relation to the leading country for each attribute, pillar, indicator and component, before being “weighted” and converted into a composite score. Weights have been selected not only in accordance with the relative importance of each indicator, but also to prevent an imbalance between qualitative and quantitative indicators, not least because the latter demonstrate mass.

Is the Audit based on a “relative” or “absolute” scale?

Insofar as no country can ever reach a “maximum” level of geopolitical capability – by making itself more efficient, even a world state could increase its capability – the scores are based on a relative scale, whereby each country is positioned in relation to the leader.

Is the Audit calculated with “objective” or “subjective” data?

Although subjective data is included, the Audit does not aim to measure the perception of any country. However, some indicators – measures of freedom, government efficiency, and so on – are subjective, insofar as they are based on academic judgment. In such cases, data has been ascertained from scholarly sources, which make assessments systematically against a set criteria.

Is any data missing from the Audit?

Of the 1240 potential data observations used in the Audit, only three (0.2%) were missing. They were simply unavailable in the sources consulted. In such cases, the relevant country was given a score of zero for each potential observation.

Which countries are included in the Audit?

All countries within the G20 are included, alongside Nigeria – the largest economy and most populous country in Africa. The G20 is commonly understood to contain the world’s leading nations.

Is the Audit designed to “over-represent” certain countries or to fit an ideological position?

The Audit is not designed to “over-represent” any country or fit an ideological position. It is based on an open and peer-reviewed framework and methodology, which was reviewed at a workshop in December 2018 organised by the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge.




The first Audit of Geopolitical Capability was compiled in 2017. Although it is similar to the 2019 edition, it utilised a different analytical framework predicated on different indicators. It also included only eight countries, namely the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and US – alongside Germany, India and Japan.



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