Today saw the 2016 Global Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The index rates countries across the world on 23 indicators of peace, ranging from ‘weapons imports /exports’ or ‘terrorism impact’, to ‘relations with neighbours’. You can see an interactive version of the map here.
The index has been going for ten years, and throughout that time has charted a decline in global peace – at odds with a longer-term increase in peace since the end of WWII. However, this overall analysis hides a starker point: that the world is becoming split between countries who are getting more peaceful, and those who are becoming less peaceful – a trend that the authors describe as ‘Peace Inequality’.
“While 81 countries improved, the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains, meaning that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year. Despite this some of the most peaceful countries are now recording historically high levels of peace.
The score for the Middle East and Africa (MENA),the least peaceful region in the world in last year’s report, dropped further as regional conflicts intensified, dragging down global peacefulness. So intense is the current concentration of violence and conflict in MENA that, when considered separately, the rest of the world’s average peace levels improved. Three of the five biggest declines in peace occurred in the region including Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.”
Institute for Economics & Peace
So the picture for world peace is complex and the full report goes into lots of detail (at 120 pages!) The continuing improvement of peace in the top ranked countries can perhaps give us hope that the peaceful attitudes and policies there could be replicated elsewhere, while the decline in peace in the MENA region and growth of terrorism is a stark reminder of how much more peacebuilding we need to do. And before we start feeling superior, the UK is ranked down at 47 (out of 163) – our attachment to nuclear weapons amongst the factors dragging our score down.
Of course, peace isn’t something we can easily quantify, and there are different ways of thinking about peace & justice. If you’re interested in these questions, or want some ideas for things you can do to make the world a more peaceful place, pop into Peace Hub for a friendly chat.