Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008, whereas peacefulness across the world declined to lowest level in 15 years fuelled by post Covid economic uncertainty and Ukraine conflict, according to a new report.
New Zealand, Denmark and Australia also come in the top position for the most peaceful countries. The Global Peace Index 2022 by Institute for Economics and Peace said that Afghanistan is the least peaceful country for the fifth consecutive year. Yemen, Syria, Russia and South Sudan follows Afghanistan. Seven of the ten counties at the top are in Europe, and Turkey is the only country in this region to be ranked outside the top half of the Index.
Two of the five countries with the largest deteriorations in peacefulness were Russia and the Ukraine, they were joined by Guinea, Burkina Faso and Haiti. All these deteriorations were due to ongoing conflict
INEQUALITY IN PEACEFULNESS
The Global index points out that inequality in peacefulnes across the world has continued to increase. Since 2008, the 25 least peaceful countries deteriorated on average by 16 per cent, while the 25 most peaceful countries improved by 5.1 per cent. Since 2008, 116 countries reduced their homicide rate.
There were substantial improvements for several indicators, including terrorism impact, nuclear and heavy weapons, deaths from internal conflict, military expenditure and perceptions of criminality. Terrorism impact is at its lowest level since the inception of the GPI.
It said that the cost of violence to global economy was 16.5 trillion dollar, or 10.9 per cent of global GDP, which is the equivalent to 2,117 dollar per person. For the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic impact was equivalent to 34 per cent of GDP, compared to 3.6 per cent in the countries least affected. The largest deteriorations of the 23 indicators in the GPL included neighbouring country relations, intensity of internal conflict, refugees and IDPs, political terror scale and political instability.
Twenty-eight countries have high levels of instability, and ten countries recorded the worst possible political terror score.
Founder and Executive Chairman of IEP Steve Killelea said: “Last year we warned about the economic fallout from COVID-19. We are now experiencing supply chain shortages, rising inflation, and food insecurity that have been compounded by the tragic events in Ukraine. The political and economic consequences of this will reverberate for years to come.
“When combined with the record poor scores for neighbouring relations, political insecurity and intensity of internal conflict, governments, organisations, and leaders must harness the power of peace,” Killelea said.
“The economic value of lost peace reached record levels in 2021. There is a need to reverse this trend, and the GPI has shown that those countries that implement the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and susta in peaceful societies, witness an improved economic outcome.” Said Killelea.
MILITARISATION & THE UKRAINE WAR
Military spending as a percentage of GDP decreased in 94 countries, while 12 countries reduced armed service personnel since 2008. However, the report mentioned that Ukraine-Russia war and the potential increase in military spending by NATO countries to 2 per cent of GDP may lead to deteriorations in future years. Independently of this conflict, China plans to increase its spending on military by 7.1% in 2022.
The Global Index also noted that optimism about the future was on the rise with three times as many people felt they could have the best possible future than in 2019. It also noted that only 20 percent felt the government could deal with a disaster. In contrast, the proportion of Russians feeling safer than five years prior tell between 2019 and 2021, While nearly three times as many Russians were worried about the economy.
Although the full impact of the Ukraine Russia war is still being felt, many European nations near Russia have seen deteriorating relationships.
The war also emphasised the importance of technology in shaping conflict. 5G mobile technology, social media revolution, and greater affordability of drones changed warfare. Recent conflicts have highlighted a move away from static, curated intelligence to real time gathering via social media. Information is fluid, content driven, and shared in a raw, uncensored format.
GLOBAL ECONOMY AND RISE OF VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed countries towards economic and political crises. Countries that had become progressively more peaceful experienced outbreaks of protests and violence aimed at governments handling of the pandemic. The intensity of violent demonstrations increased by 49 per cent since 2008, with 126 of the 163 countries in the Index deteriorating. South Asia witnessed the highest frequency and intensity of violent demonstrations where India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan recorded their highest levels since the inception of the GPI.
In Europe, there were widespread anti-lockdown protests, especially in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Croatia and the UK, with similar developments in North America.
CONFLICT AND DISPLACEMENT
Ongoing Conflict had the largest deterioration at 9.3% of all three GPI domains since 2008. The number of countries experiencing violent internal conflict rose from 29 to 38, but the number of people killed in internal conflicts has fallen since 2017. The number of forcibly displaced people around the world increased from 31 million in 2008, to over 88 million in 2022. There are 17 countries where at least 5% of the population are either refugees or internally displaced. South Sudan has over 35% of its population displaced, while Somalia and the Central African Republic have more than 20%.
- Russia and Eurasia experienced the largest deterioration in peacefulness, driven by deteriorations in conflict deaths, refugees and IDPs, political instability and political terror,
- South Asia remains the second least peaceful region but recorded the largest increase in peacefulness, driven by improvements in ongoing conflict.
- Asia-Pacific recorded an increase in peacefulness, driven by improvements in all three GPI domains with the largest occurring in Safety and Security.
- The US had the lowest level of peacefulness since 2008, with civil unrest the primary driver.
- Violent crime increased in Central America and the Caribbean by 4.4% in 2022 to reach the highest level since 2008. Haiti had the largest deterioration in the region
- MENA recorded the second biggest improvement globally. Yemen is the least peaceful country in the region for the second consecutive year. Libya recorded the largest improvement in peacefulness globally.
- Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a 1% deterioration South Sudan remains the least peaceful country in the region, despite an overall improvement Although levels of internal conflict in the country remain high, the number of deaths from internal conflict improved by 15%.
- Deaths from external conflict recorded a sharp deterioration driven by the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Despite recent commitments, militarisation decreased in 113 countries since 2008.
- Terrorism continued to improve with 70 countries recording no attacks in 2021. This is the best result since 2008.
- The rise in costs increased food insecurity and political instability globally, with Africa, South Asia and the Middle East under greatest threat.
- The political terror scale, political insecurity neighbouring country relations, refugees and internally-displaced-persons (IDPs) reached their worst score since the inception of the GPL
- The global economic impact of violence was $16.5 trillion in 2021, equivalent to 10.9% of global GDP, or $2,117 per person