Global Peace Index (GPI) overall score trend and year-on-year percentage change, 2008-2018. Peacefulness has declined year-on-year for eight of the ten last years. Graphic: IEP

LONDON, 6 June 2018 (IEP) –  The 12th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI) report, produced by the international think-tank the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), revealed that the world is less peaceful today than at any time in the last decade.

The 2018 GPI reveals a world in which the tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the last decade remain unresolved, resulting in a gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness. The largest contributors to the deterioration in the last year were the escalations in both interstate and internal armed conflicts, rise in political terror and reduced commitment to UN peacekeeping. Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia are the least peaceful countries whilst Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark are the most peaceful countries.

The GPI is the world's leading measure of global peacefulness. 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'. All three domains deteriorated over the last year.

Despite retaining its position as the most peaceful region in the world, Europe deteriorated for the third successive year. For the first time in the history of the index, a Western European country experienced one of the five largest deteriorations with Spain falling 10 places in the rankings to 30th, owing to internal political tensions and an increase in the impact of terrorism. In the last decade, 61 per cent of the countries in Europe deteriorated, due to higher levels of political instability, increased impact from terrorism, and increased perceptions of criminality. No single Nordic country is more peaceful now than in 2008.

Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP, said: "We have progressed on many fronts in the last decade but reaching greater peacefulness in the world has remained elusive. The challenge is borne out in our research which shows that it is much harder to build peace than it is to destroy it. This partly explains why countries at the bottom of the index remain trapped in prolonged conflict. Ongoing conflicts such as those in Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan have, in the past decade, contributed towards a significant rise in battlefield deaths, a surging refugee population and an increase in terrorism.

"Europe, the most peaceful region, has also suffered with 23 of the 36 countries deteriorating in peace in the last year, which is predominately the result of increasing political tensions and deteriorating relations between countries."

Surprisingly, the indicator with the largest improvement last year was military expenditure as a portion of GDP, with 88 countries spending less and 44 spending more. Average country military expenditure as a percentage of GDP has continued its decade long decline, with 102 countries spending less. Three of the five Scandinavian countries are amongst the largest weapons exporters when measured as a percentage of GDP.

The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2017 was $14.8 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 12.4 per cent of the world's economic activity (gross world product), or $1,988 for every person. The economic impact of violence increased by 2 per cent during 2017 due to increases in the cost of conflict and internal security expenditures, with the largest increases being in security spending occurring in China, Russia, and South Africa.

This year's report also finds that highly peaceful countries also have considerable economic advantages over the least peaceful countries: inflation rates are nearly three times higher in low peace economies, interest rates were found to be over twice as high and foreign direct investment was nearly half. 

Killelea, commented: "The long-term economic benefits that flow from peace are of particular interest in this year's report. Countries with the highest levels of peace averaged an additional two percentage points on their GDP growth rates over the last sixty years compared to the least peaceful countries. If we review the economic benefits of peace over the past decade, countries that improved in peace had GDP growth rates almost seven times higher than countries that decreased in peace. These are truly remarkable figures and underscore the economic benefits of peace."

The US score continued to decline, driven by increased political instability, despite reductions in the impact from terrorism and militarisation. The US is now one of the seven G20 members amongst the 50 least peaceful countries in the world, along with Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, and Russia.

Six of the nine regions of the world deteriorated in peacefulness with the four most peaceful regions, Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific and South America, all deteriorating too.

Regions by overall peacefulness, 2018 and change in peacefulness, 2017-2018. Graphic: IEP

Regional overview

  • The Middle East and North Africa remained the world's least peaceful region in 2018, despite a slight improvement in its score - the result of improvements in Iraq and Syria due to the diminishing reach of ISIL. Qatar experienced the single largest deterioration in peacefulness, as the political and economic boycott placed on it by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain led to deteriorations in relations with neighbouring countries, and political instability.
  • The broad trend in Europe has been a convergence in peace with the most peaceful, predominately those in Western Europe, declining in peacefulness, while those with weaker scores, many of them in Eastern Europe, improving.
  • The Asia-Pacific region's peacefulness deteriorated, with 11 countries falling  while eight improved. Myanmar had the biggest deterioration, falling 15 places. Australia had the second largest deterioration due to higher levels of incarceration and higher levels of militarisation.
  • In North America, the level of peacefulness in the United States has declined for the second consecutive year and is now at the worst level of any time since 2012. Canada suffered a deterioration in its terrorism impact rating after the Quebec City and Edmonton attacks.
  • Russia and Eurasia remained in seventh place despite a slight deterioration in the overall score. The Ukraine, the Kyrgyz Republic and Moldova improved their scores while nine other countries deteriorated. Russia had the second largest deterioration after Armenia.
  • The biggest challenge to peace in Central America and the Caribbean is crime and corruption. For the last eight years, the region has had the worst scores in the index for homicide rate, violent crime, and perceptions of criminality.
  • South America continues its struggle with lawlessness. The most significant riser in the region was Argentina, followed by Brazil and Colombia.
  • The inequality of peace in South Asia continued to widen over the year, with the least peaceful nations - Afghanistan and Pakistan - continuing their decline, while the most peaceful - Bhutan and Sri Lanka - continued to improve.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa was home to four of the five largest improvements in peacefulness, the Gambia, Liberia, Burundi, Senegal. Peacefulness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to deteriorate, affecting the country's prospects for weathering crises like the ongoing Ebola epidemic.

For more information, go to http://www.visionofhumanity.org.

About the Global Peace Index (GPI)

This is the 12th edition of the GPI: the world's leading measure of global peacefulness produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It gauges on-going domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and the degree of militarisation in 163 countries and territories by taking into account 23 indicators.

About the Institute for Economics and Peace

IEP is an international and independent think tank dedicated to shifting the world's focus to peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. It has offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague and Mexico City.

Contact

Global Peace Index: World is Less Peaceful Today Than at Any Time in the Last Decade


Map showing the Global Peace Index (GPI) for 2018. Graphic: IEP

6 June 2018 (IEP) – This is the twelfth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. This report presents the most comprehensive data-driven analysis to-date on trends in peace, its economic value, and how to develop peaceful societies.

The GPI covers 99.7% of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, and measures the state of peace using three thematic domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

The results of the 2018 GPI find that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27% in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations. Ninety-two countries deteriorated, while 71 countries improved. The 2018 GPI reveals a world in which the tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the past decade remain unresolved, especially in the Middle East, resulting in a gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness.

Underlying the fall in peacefulness, six of the nine regions in the world deteriorated in the last year. The four most peaceful regions – Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, and South America – all recorded deteriorations, with the largest overall deterioration occurring in South America, owing to falls in the Safety and Security domain, mainly due to increases in the incarceration rate and impact of terrorism.

Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark also sit in the top five most peaceful rankings. Syria remains the least peaceful country in the world, a position it has held for the past five years. Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia comprise the remaining least peaceful countries.

Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, recorded a deterioration for the third straight year. It deteriorated across all three GPI domains and eleven indicators, most notably on the intensity of internal conflict and relations with neighbouring countries. For the first time in the history of the index, a Western European country experienced one of the five largest deteriorations, with Spain falling 10 places in the rankings to 30th, owing to internal political tensions and an increase in the impact of terrorism.

The ten-year trend in peacefulness finds that global peacefulness has deteriorated by 2.38% since 2008, with 85 GPI countries recording a deterioration, while 75 improved. The index has deteriorated for eight of the last eleven years, with the last improvement in peacefulness occurring in 2014. In Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, 61% of countries have deteriorated since 2008.

The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2017 was $14.76 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 12.4% of the world’s economic activity (gross world product) or $1,988 for every person. The economic impact of violence increased by 2% during 2017 due to a rise in the economic impact of conflict and increases in internal security spending, with the largest increases being in China, Russia, and South Africa. Since 2012, the economic impact of violence has increased by 16%, corresponding with the start of the Syrian war and rising violence in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The 2018 Global Peace Index uniquely reveals that peacefulness has a considerable impact on macroeconomic performance. In the last 70 years, per capita growth has been three times higher in highly peaceful countries when compared to countries with low levels of peace. The difference is even stronger when looking at changes in peacefulness, with the report finding that per capita GDP growth has been seven times higher over the last decade in countries that improved in peacefulness versus those that deteriorated.

Average GDP growth per capita by level of peacefulness, 1960-2016. Graphic: IEP

Peacefulness is also correlated with strong performance on a number of macroeconomic variables. Interest rates are lower and more stable in highly peaceful countries, as is the rate of inflation. Foreign direct investment is more than twice as high in highly peaceful countries. In total, if the least peaceful countries had grown at the same rate as highly peaceful countries, the global economy would be almost 14 trillion dollars larger.

Positive Peace improved 1.85% on average between 2005 and 2013, but has stagnated in the last three years.  Despite improvements in most other Pillars, Acceptance of the Rights of Others has been deteriorating in Europe and North America since 2005. The region that experienced the most significant deteriorations across the highest number of Pillars was the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), followed by South America. Low Levels of Corruption, Acceptance of the Rights of Others, and Well-Functioning Government are the key Pillars that deteriorate prior to the largest deteriorations in internal peace. As a further testament to the relationship of macroeconomics and peace, improvements in Positive Peace are linked to strong domestic currencies. A 1% increase in Positive Peace is associated with a 0.9% appreciation of the domestic currency among non-OECD countries.

Global Peace Index 2018

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