Global peacefulness improves for the first time in five years

The Global Peace Index launched today shows that peacefulness has improved, but world remains less peaceful than a decade ago.

Key Results

  • Ukraine registered the largest improvement in peacefulness this year; Nicaragua the largest drop.
  • More countries decreased their militarisation, 106 countries, than increased it – continuing a decade long trend.
  • Since 2008 global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent, with 81 countries deteriorating and 81 improving, highlighting that deteriorations in peacefulness are generally larger than improvements.

Climate Change Highlights

  • More than 400 million people live in areas with low levels of peacefulness and high risk from climate change.
  • Eight of the 25 least peaceful countries have 103 million at risk in high climate hazard areas.
  • Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa has the weakest coping capacity for climate hazards, which could exacerbate violent conflicts.

GDP/Economic Cost of Violence Highlights

  • The economic impact of violence on the global economy has decreased for the first time since 2012, amounting to $14.1 trillion in 2018, or 11.2 per cent or $1,853 for every person.
  • Countries with very high levels of peace, on average, achieved over three times higher per capita GDP growth compared to the least peaceful countries for the last 60 years.
  • In the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic cost of violence was equivalent to 35 per cent of GDP, compared to just 3.3 per cent in the countries least affected by violence.

The 13th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI) report, the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, reveals that the average level of global peacefulness improved for the first time in five years. However, despite improvement, the world remains considerably less peaceful now than a decade ago, with the average level of peacefulness deteriorating by nearly four per cent since 2008. This year’s report includes new research on the possible effects of climate change on peace.

Eighty-six countries improved their score in the 2019 report, whilst 76 deteriorated. Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. It is joined at the top of the index by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark. Bhutan has recorded the largest improvement of any country in the top 20, rising 43 places in the last 12 years.

Afghanistan is now the least peaceful country in the world, replacing Syria, which is now the second least peaceful. South Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq comprise the remaining five least peaceful countries. This is the first year since the inception of the index that Yemen has been ranked amongst the five least peaceful countries.

Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP, said: “Although peace has improved in the 2019 GPI, a deeper analysis finds a mixture of positive and negative trends.

“Whilst the conflicts that have dominated the past decade, such as in Iraq and Syria, have begun to abate, new conflicts have emerged in Yemen, Nicaragua and Turkey, resulting in the bottom ten countries in the index declining by more than the global average – increasing the global inequality in peace.”

Four of the nine regions in the world became more peaceful over the past year. The largest increase in peacefulness occurred in the Russia and Eurasia region, followed by the Middle East and North Africa. In both regions, the number of deaths from conflict declined in Ukraine and Syria respectively. The fall in conflict deaths has been mirrored by a fall in deaths from terrorism.

Two of the three GPI domains deteriorated over the past decade, with Ongoing Conflict deteriorating by 8.7 per cent and Safety and Security deteriorating by 4 per cent. However, contrary to public perception, the Militarisation domain has recorded a 2.6 per cent improvement since 2008. The number of armed services personnel per 100,000 people has fallen in 117 countries, and military expenditure as a percentage of GDP fell in 98 countries, with only 63 countries increasing their spending.

The GPI report presents the most comprehensive data-driven analysis to-date on peace, its economic value, trends, and how to develop peaceful societies. The report covers 99.7 per cent of the world’s population and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources to compile the index. These indicators are grouped into three key domains: Ongoing Conflict, Safety and Security, and Militarisation.

Read the Global Peace Index 2019 online.

Vision of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.

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