Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The 2011 Global Peace Index

The Institute for Economics & Peace has released their annual Global Peace Index that shows us that the world is less peaceful than a year before. The biggest factor that caused a drop in world peace was not wars between nations, but people rising up against their own governments. The protests and bloody conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East were the greatest example of this.

From the Vision for Humanity website this video gives a great summary of the Index conclusions.

2011 Global Peace Index from Vision of Humanity on Vimeo.

From the press release for this year's Global Peace Index, the writers give us more details on how all the counties were scored. You can view an interactive map and all of the data at the Vision for Humanity website.

The threat of terrorist attacks and the likelihood of violent
demonstrations were the two leading factors making the world less peaceful in 2011,
according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI), released today. This is the third
consecutive year that the GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has shown a decline in the levels of world peace. The economic cost of this to the global economy was $8.12 trillion in the past year.

The GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. It gauges ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and militarisation in 153 countries by taking into account 23 separate indicators.

The 2011 Index dramatically reflects the impact on national rankings of the Arab Spring.

Libya (143) saw the most significant drop – falling 83 places; Bahrain (123) dropped by 51 places – the second largest margin; while Egypt (73) dropped 24 places. Unrest caused by economic instability also led to falls in levels of peacefulness in Greece (65), Italy (45), Spain (28), Portugal (17) and Ireland (11).

“The fall in this year’s Index is strongly tied to conflict between citizens and their governments; nations need to look at new ways of creating stability other than through military force,” said Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP. “Despite a decade-long war on terrorism, the potential for terrorist acts has increased this year offsetting small gains made in prior years”.

While the overall level of peacefulness was down, this year’s data did show increased peacefulness in some areas – most notably levels of military expenditure and relations between neighbouring states Killelea continued: “There is increasing recognition that there is a real ‘peace dividend’ to be had. Our research identifies eight social attitudes and structures2 required to create peaceful, resilient and socially sustainable societies.”

Twenty-nine nations (particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Europe) experienced a rise in their terror threat level making this the most significant negative influence on the Global Peace Index this year. In thirty three nations the likelihood for violent demonstrations increased.

The 8 structures are: Well-functioning government; Sound business environment; Equitable distribution of resources; Acceptance of the rights of others; Good relations with neighbours; Free flow of information; High levels of education; Low levels of corruption.

Having high scores across all eight structures enabled Iceland to regain its position at the top of this year’s Index, after slipping in last year’s ranking following violent demonstrations related to the collapse of the country’s financial system and currency. High scores across the governance structures also explain why Japan was able to retain its position in the rankings – despite the external shock of this year’s earthquake and tsunami.


If the word had been 25% more peaceful over the past year there would have been an
economic impact of US$2 trillion to the global economy.

If the world had been 25% more peaceful over the past year the global economy would have reaped an additional economic benefit of just over US$2 trillion. This amount would pay for the 2% of global GDP per annum investment estimated by the Stern Review3 to avoid the worst effects of climate change, cover the cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, eliminate the public debt of Greece, Portugal and Ireland5, and address the one-off rebuilding costs of the most expensive natural disaster in history – the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation, followed by New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Iraq (152) moved from the bottom of the Index for the first time ever.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region least at peace, containing 40% of the world’s
least peaceful countries, Sudan (151) and Somalia (153) at the bottom of the Index.
For the fifth consecutive year, Western Europe is the most peaceful region with the
majority of countries ranking in the top 20. Four Nordic countries are ranked in the top ten; however, Sweden drops to number 13 because of its arms-manufacturing industry and the volume of exports of conventional weapons. Joining the European Union has had a positive impact on the relevant members of Central and Eastern Europe with the Czech Republic moving into the top ten (5th place) for the first time and Slovenia rising to 10th position.
North America demonstrated a slight improvement since last year. Canada (8) jumped
6 places in this year’s rankings whereas the US's (82) overall score remained unchanged although its ranking improved from 85th to 82nd.

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