Source: Global Peace Index Press release
The world became slightly less peaceful for the second consecutive year, according to the fourth annual Global Peace Index (GPI) published today. As the global economy continues to falter, this year’s data shows an intensification of conflicts and growing instability linked to the downturn that began in 2008, with several countries seeing sharp increases in homicides, violent demonstrations and fear of crime.
- Violence impacting global economy $7.4 trillion annually
- New Zealand tops rankings for second consecutive year
- Drop in peace levels due largely to increase in homicides, violent demonstrations and fear of crime
- 4-year trends show Middle East and Africa with most gains in peacefulness; South Asia sees sharpest declines
- Military spending as a % of GDP reaches its lowest point in 4 years
The increase in violence is depriving the global economy of assets when they are needed most. A 25% reduction in global violence would free up $1.85 trillion USD annually – enough to pay off Greece’s debt, fund the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and pay all the interest on the US debt in just one year.
Produced annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the 2010 GPI has been expanded to rank 149 independent states. Composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, it combines internal and external factors ranging from level of military expenditure to relations with neighbouring countries and respect for human rights.
“The research carried out by IEP based on 4 years of GPI data provides a quantifiable demonstration that improving peace can transform the global economy and unleash the wealth needed to tackle debt, fund economic expansion and create a more sustainable environment,” said Steve Killelea, founder of the GPI.
Top-ranked New Zealand was one of only three countries in the top ten to improve in peacefulness in the 2010 Index. Iceland fell from the top to number four in last year’s ratings after the financial meltdown but is back in second spot as the country’s economy stabilised demonstrating the resilience of peaceful nations.
Commenting on the results, Georg Kell, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact said: “This research clearly indicates the strong positive relationship between peace and factors critical to successful business operations, including market size, cost structures and profits. Business leaders would be well advised to take this research into account when creating their strategic and operational plans and making investment decisions”.
Despite the global slide, the Middle East and Africa have made the most gains since the research began in 2007, improving due to a decrease in the number and the intensity of conflicts fought, a reduction in military expenditure and a reduced availability of small weapons. Ethiopia, Mauritania and Lebanon, for example, were three of this year’s most improved in peacefulness.
Conversely, South Asia saw the greatest decrease in peacefulness, as a result of increased involvement in conflicts, a rise in deaths from internal conflict and human rights abuses. The main countries experiencing decreases in peacefulness were India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Year-on-year, Latin America had the steepest fall in peacefulness because of more internal violence, homicides and increased levels of perceived criminality.
The US improved its 2010 score but slipped three spots down the index due to the addition of new countries and the re-rating of the number of heavy weapons. Methodological changes aside, this year the US saw its biggest improvement in peacefulness over the four years of the study through a decrease in political instability and in the number of deaths from external conflict.
Western Europe continues to be the most peaceful region, with the majority of the countries ranking in the top 20. All five Scandinavian nations rank in the top ten.
Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan were the least peaceful countries for the second consecutive year. Syria, Georgia, the Philippines, Russia and Cyprus were this year’s biggest fallers.
The GPI was founded by Killelea, an Australian international technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. It forms part of the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank dedicated to the research and education of the relationship between economics, business and peace. An international panel of experts in the study of peace advises on the identification and weighting of indicators in the GPI, which is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Sue Adkins, International Director of Business in the Community commented: ‘As companies extend and develop their global business and supply chains, a key part of the risk and opportunity analysis has to be the political and social stability of markets wherever they do or hope to do business. Business does not thrive in the long term if communities are not thriving; the relationship is symbiotic. There is a key business case therefore for investing in the stability of communities and markets in which they operate as supported by a well planned and delivered Corporate Responsibility strategy. The Global Peace Index provides an extremely useful insight into the stability of markets and communities based on over 20 indications across 140+ countries. For companies and indeed any organisation operating internationally this is a invaluable study.’
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