World less peaceful for third consecutive year
By S U Ahmad
First brought to us in 2007 by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the Global Peace Index (GPI) is the world’s leading measure of national peacefulness. It uses a total of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, ranging from military expenditure to the number of jailed persons, to annually rank an increasing number of countries as according to the absence of violence.
Developed in collaboration with a panel of think tanks and experts, the GPI is increasingly used in the study of peace and is backed by a number of hard hitters including former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Anan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, economist Jeffry Sachs and the Dalai Lama.
This year’s results show a drop in global peace for the third consecutive year, with driving factors including conflict, increased food insecurity, fluctuation of fuel and commodities prices, and increased likelihood of terrorist attacks and violent civil unrest, with 2008’s global economic downturn looming in the backdrop.
While Iceland topped the list of 153 countries, seemingly on the road to recovery from its banking crisis, and others such as the UK and Australia saw slight improvements, both featuring in the top 30, ratings in the Arab world have seen better years.
Most dramatically, the year of the Arab Spring has seen a decline in Egypt, Bahrain and Libya’s rankings by 26, 47 and 87 points respectively. Asked if uprisings in the region were likely to improve Middle Eastern ratings in the long run, founder Steve Killelea felt that there was a possibility.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries that have frequented the bottom of the Index in recent years include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has seen widespread and largely unreported bloodshed throughout recent history, as well as some of the world’s highest rape rates, an ever-crumbling Pakistan, and Somalia, which this year overtook a bloodied Iraq for the bottom most position.
Notably, this year’s results have attracted the ire of many Israelis, incensed at their country’s lowest ever ranking at 148. Last year’s flotilla massacre and the ongoing siege of Gaza no doubt contributed to its 5/5 score for disrespect towards human rights.
The interactive map can be viewed here: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi-data/#/2011/scor
The Platform interviewed founder of the GPI Steve Killelea at his Soho offices last week, where he discussed this year’s newly published results and answered some of the criticisms posed by analysts in the past, including the ‘freeloader problem’ highlighted by the Economist, and the lack of indicators relating specifically to violence against women and children, highlighted by the Christian Science Monitor. An insightful discussion resulted.
S U Ahmad is Politics & Society Editor at The Platform.
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