The eleventh Global Peace Index Report (GPI) for 2017 has been released

The 2017 Global Peace Index: a snapshot of the global state of peace The 2017 Global Peace Index: a snapshot of the global state of peace © IEP, 2017

August 2017
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has ranked 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness.

The results of the 2017 report find that the global level of peace has slightly improved this year by 0.28 per cent. 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, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark. There was also very little change at the bottom of the index. Syria remains the least peaceful country in the world, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen.

There have been significant improvements since last year. The largest improvement was number and duration of external conflicts. This was mainly due to many countries winding down their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Political terror also significantly improved in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). There were also general reductions in the number of homicides per 100,000 people and the level of violent crime. But why does it not necessarily feel like this?

The report argues that heightened media attention on conflict in the Middle East, refugee flows and terrorism in Europe has meant several positive trends have not been as widely covered. Similarly, the United States’ score has been dragged down because of a deterioration in the perceived level of crime in society, and the intensity of organised internal conflict. This also reflects the wider context of declining peace. The report concludes that global peacefulness has deteriorated overall by 2.14 per cent since 2008.

The report aims to measure the economic value of peace. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2016 was found to be $14.3 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 12.6 per cent of the world’s economic activity. Peacebuilding expenditure is estimated to be approximately $10 billion, or less than one per cent of the cost of war. The report also estimates the likely return on increases in peacebuilding funding, where a return on investment can be up to 16 times the cost of the intervention. In other words, peace pays.

This year’s report also includes analysis of Positive Peace factors – factors that are most important for countries transitioning to higher levels of peace. The analysis finds that different factors become more important at differing stages. In low-peace environments, the factors that matter the most are related to Well-Functioning Government, Low Levels of Corruption, Acceptance of the Rights of Others and Good Relations with Neighbours. For countries at the midlevel of peace, Free Flow of Information and Sound Business Environment rise in importance.

Notably, the report found that deteriorations in Positive Peace can be linked to the rise of populism in Europe. Increased perceived levels of corruption within the political elite, rising inequality in wealth, deterioration in press freedoms and media concentration, along with diminishing Acceptance of the Rights of Others, are linked to many of the issues populist parties have successfully capitalised on.


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