The 2016 Global Peace Index

The 2016 Global Peace Index © Vision of Humanity

10 August 2016
In June 2016, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released the 2016 Global Peace Index Report (GPI).

This is its tenth edition and is comprised of ranking 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. The most astonishing find in this year’s GPI report is that the overall global levels of peace continue to deteriorate and at a faster rate than the previous year, while the gap between the most and least peaceful countries increases.

Since the end of World War II, the world lived a term of peaceful improvements up until ten years ago. There has been a historic decline in world peace since the beginning of the GPI Reports. The deterioration is a product on the intensifying conflicts and battle deaths, terrorism being at an all-time high, and the highest level of refugees and displaced persons in 60 years.

Peaceful countries have managed to maintain their peace level or become more peaceful. The top five most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal, respectively. Portugal managed to improve its rank level by nine places since last year. However, the gap between countries has widened with least peaceful countries deteriorating to even lower levels of peace. The five countries at the bottom of the index, and all currently plagued with conflict, are Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria, which is ranked as the least peaceful. This progressively larger gap between countries at either end of the index is creating increased levels of inequality in global peace.

The report finds that the increased internationalisation of conflicts, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has many countries contributing to the funding of peacekeeping operations, and even a decrease in global military spending in the past three years. However, the internationalisation of modern conflict has affected countries thousands of kilometres away due to the refugee flows, irregular migration and terrorism. Internal conflict in some countries has increased and resulted in more deaths and forced migration that continues to displace people or have them leave their country and seek refuge abroad.

Despite Europe being the most peaceful region in the world, its overall score deteriorated slightly due to the increased impact of terrorism and the violence and instability in Turkey. This year, the number of deaths caused by terrorism increased by 80 percent compared to 2015. Since 2011, the number of yearly terrorist incidents has tripled. In 2014, the majority of terrorist activity and deaths was limited to five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. However, the report highlights that terrorism is now more globally spread out, and only 69 countries reported that they did not have a terrorist incident this past year.

On a positive note, the report recognizes that international funding and support of UN peacekeeping operations is a reflection of an international community committing to global peace and security. There is also a notable trend in decreased rate of armed service personnel and military expenditure.

A core focus of study of the GPI is the goal to understand what creates Positive Peace. Despite its complexity and challenges in obtaining this goal, the researchers understand that other contributing multifaceted and interconnected factors play a key role in the development of peace, such as climate change, biodiversity, and economic stability. This year’s report contains a biological and ecological aspect in the study of peace, resulting in a link between Positive Peace and broader societal resilience. For example, the number of deaths from natural disasters is 13 times higher in nations with low Positive Peace in comparison to nations with high Positive Peace due to the likeliness of a country to maintain their stability, adapt and recover from internal and external shocks.

UN member states have for the first time formally recognized that the nature of peacefulness is critical in advancing global development. They are committed to obtaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, which are a new set of goals to target poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change. Goal 16 is intended to promote peace, justice and strong institutions, and without these it will be hard to achieve the other SDGs.


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