If the world seems a more violent place to you than it was five years ago, you may be right. In a new report, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) wrote that global peace has declined 5 percent since 2008, mostly because of the growing number and intensity of internal conflicts around the world such as in Iraq, Syria and Libya. According to the institute’s Global Peace Index (GPI) 2013 released yesterday, the 6 least peaceful country shared one thing in common: they are all located in the Greater Middle East region.
This part of the world accounts for the biggest share of global violence - 21 of the planet’s 44 current ongoing conflicts
The GPI tracks the prevalence of peace in 162 countries through 22 different qualitative and quantitative factors. In general, a country’s peacefulness rating is based on the degree of militarization, the presence of domestic and international conflict, and the safety and security of its civil society. Vision of Humanity, a nonprofit organization, formulated the mathematical calculation measuring peace in 2007 as part of their “strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peace to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.”
The most peaceful region in the world is Europe, specifically the more prosperous areas like Scandinavia. Iceland came in at the top while Denmark at number two, followed by New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Belgium. The index found that smaller nations tended to be more peaceful than larger ones. In Asia, the five most peaceful nations are Japan, Singapore, Bhutan, Taiwan and Malaysia. Be warned peace-loving Americans, the United States finished at a lowly 100 out of 162 in the peace index. The good thing is rival China ranked one spot below the U.S., at 101. Results of Hong Kong and Macau are merged into China.
The least peaceful country in the world was Afghanistan, a country whose peacefulness score fell to its lowest level ever. According to the report, Afghanistan’s declining ranking was driven by rising levels of political instability, terrorist activity, and expenditures on Afghanistan’s national army, which has ballooned to almost 200,000 strong. Michelle Breslauer, the U.S. Program Manager for IEP, told The Huffington Post that it was “not surprising” to see military expenditures rise in Afghanistan given the persistent threat of violence in the country during recent years.
Somalia improved from the least peaceful country in 2012 to the second least peaceful this year. Even though the country’s coastline has seen a precipitous drop in pirate attacks, the conflict between the Transitional Federal Government and terrorist group al-Shabaab remains a serious threat to social and political stability in the horn of Africa. Since the fall of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991, the country has been in a state of anarchy. Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab currently control more than one-third of the Somalia.
Syria has the biggest fall in peace score
Syria saw the largest annual decrease in peacefulness in the seven-year history of the GPI. Over the past five years, the war-torn country’s GPI score has fallen an unprecedented 70 percent. Just two years ago, Syria was ranked 108th out of 153 countries, more peaceful than all of its neighbors except Jordan. It is now the third least peaceful country in the list. Rounding out the top ten least peaceful include Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, North Korea and Central African Republic.
Perhaps most strikingly, the Global Peace Index 2013 found that $9.46 trillion was spent last year containing violence worldwide, equal to 11 percent of the gross world product. If only half of that amount could be saved, the study concluded, that would suffice to repay the entire debt of the developing world. The report admits that “it is a utopian vision to expect a world free of violence,” and major components of the cost of violence like military and police expenditures cannot be eliminated completely. However, IEP calculates that a mere 1 percent reduction in the cost of violence would free up enough money to provide full funding for the UN’s anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals.
The full ranking can be downloaded here: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/pdf/gpi … Report.pdf