Despite an increase in geopolitical tensions and an upsurge in violence in certain parts of the world, last year saw the overall level of global peacefulness remain stable, according to the latest Global Peace Index report.
Four regions experienced an improvement in peace: Europe, North America, sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and the Caribbean. The remaining five regions – Asia Pacific, South America, Russia and Eurasia, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa – saw a deterioration.
The MENA region is ranked the least peaceful in the world and saw the most significant changes compared to the previous year as violence flared across Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
Overall, 81 countries became more peaceful while 78 countries were worse off.
The Global Peace Index, issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranks 162 independent states covering 99.6% of the world’s population.
The 10 most peaceful countries
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic
The 10 least peaceful countries
- South Sudan
- Central African Republic
- DR Congo
- North Korea
- Many countries in Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, have reached historically high levels of peace. 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries are in Europe.
- Due to an increase in civil unrest and terrorist activity, the Middle East and North Africa is now the world’s least peaceful region for the first time since the Index began.
- Globally the intensity of internal armed conflict has increased dramatically, with the number of people killed in conflicts rising over 3.5 times from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014.
- The economic impact of violence reached a total of US$14.3 trillion or 13.4% of global GDP last year.
TRENDS IN PEACE
The world is less peaceful today than it was in 2008. The indicators that have deteriorated the most are the number of refugees and IDPs, the number of deaths from internal conflict and the impact of terrorism. Last year alone it is estimated that 20,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks up from an average of 2,000 a year only 10 years ago.
Only two indicators have markedly improved since 2008: UN peacekeeping funding and external conflicts fought. The number of deaths from external conflict has fallen from 1,982 to 410 over the last eight years.
Peace is more than just the absence of conflict. Positive peace can be understood as the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies. The research shows that in countries with higher levels of Positive Peace, resistance movements are less likely to become violent and are more likely to successfully achieve concessions from the state.
The total economic impact of violence last year reached US$14.3 trillion, or 13.4% of global GDP. That’s equivalent to the combined economies of Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
The Global Peace Index is a composite index comprised of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators that gauge the level of peace in 162 countries. These indicators can be grouped into three broad themes: the level of safety and security in a society, the number of international and domestic conflicts and the degree of militarisation.
The only statistical measure of its kind, the Global Peace Index allows us to understand what makes societies peaceful and what we need to do in order to mitigate violence in the future.
The Global Peace Index interactive map allows you to explore how your country scores on the Index, compare two or more countries, see changes in peace over time and discover how the world fares according to each of the 23 indicators of peace.