Global Peace Index (GPI) is a report produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) which measures the relative position of nations and regions' peacefulness. This is the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of 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 over 99.7 percent of the world's population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, and measure the state of peace across three domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security, the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict and the degree of Militarisation.
This year's results show that the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.07 percent. This is the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last thirteen years, with 87 countries improving and 73 recording deterioration; however, the change in score is the second smallest in the history of the index. The 2021 GPI reveals a world in which the conflicts and crises that emerged in the past decade have begun to abate, only to be replaced with a new wave of tension and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions between many of the major powers.
The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peacefulness is still unfolding. While some forms of violence declined in the short term, growing unease with lockdowns and rising economic uncertainty resulted in civil unrest increasing in 2020. Over 5,000 pandemic-related violent events were recorded between January 2020 and April 2021. It is still too early to fully gauge the long-term effects of the pandemic on peace. However, the changing economic conditions in many nations increase the likelihood of political instability and violent demonstrations.
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, Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Afghanistan is the least peaceful country in the world for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Iraq. All except Yemen have been ranked amongst the five least peaceful nations since at least 2015, with Afghanistan having been ranked amongst the three least peaceful nations since 2010.
Eight of the ten countries at the top of the GPI are located in Europe. This is the most European countries to be ranked in the top ten in the history of the index. Singapore fell out of the top ten, replaced by Ireland which improved by three places.
Only three of the nine regions in the world became more peaceful over the past year. The largest improvement occurred in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), followed by Europe and South Asia. However, MENA remains the least peaceful region in the world. An improvement in the level of Ongoing Conflict in MENA was the biggest driver of increased peacefulness, with every indicator on the domain, recording an improvement. In Europe, the improvement in peacefulness was driven by improvements in internal safety and security, including improvements in terrorism impact, violent demonstrations and violent crime. However, political instability and military expenditure deteriorated.
The largest regional deterioration occurred in North America, which deteriorated across all three GDP domains. The primary driver of this fall in peacefulness was a deterioration in the safety and security domain, especially in the United States, where growing civil unrest led to increased perceptions of criminality and political instability and more violent demonstrations.
Two of the three GPI domains deteriorated over the past decade, with ongoing conflict deteriorating by 6.2 percent and Safety and Security deteriorating by 2.5 percent. Militarisation was the only domain to improve. Terrorism and civil unrest have been the biggest contributors to the global deterioration in peacefulness. Ninety countries recorded increased terrorist activity, while only 50 had lower levels of terrorism. However, after peaking in 2014, during the height of the Syrian civil war, total deaths from terrorism have fallen every year for the last six years, with the largest falls occurring in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.
Although the impact of terrorism and conflict has fallen over the past six years, the level of civil and political unrest has risen. The number of violent demonstrations rose in 61 countries since 2008 and fell in just 27 countries. There was a 244 percent increase globally in riots, general strikes and anti-government demonstrations between 2011 and 2019. There is currently no sign that this trend is abating.
In 2021 the Ongoing conflict domain improved for the first time since 2015, with the fall in the total number of conflicts fought and a decrease in the overall intensity of the internal conflict. Twenty-one countries improved on internal conflicts fought, while only one deteriorated. However, the total number of conflict-related deaths has been falling for the past six years, the total number of conflicts and deaths is still much higher than a decade ago. Since 2010, the number of conflicts globally has increased by 88 percent.
The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2020 was $14.96 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 11.6 percent of the world's economic activity (gross world product) or $1,942 per person. The economic impact of violence increased by 0.2 percent during 2020. This was mainly driven by an increase in global military expenditure, which rose by 3.7 percent, however, the economic impact of terrorism fell by 17.5 percent.
The key to building peacefulness in times of conflict and uncertainty is Positive Peace. It can also be used to forecast future falls in peacefulness, with accuracy rates of up to 90 percent. Positive Peace is defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. Countries that have higher levels of peace as measured by the GPI, than Positive Peace, are said to have a 'Positive Peace deficit'.
The Pillars of Positive Peace interact systemically to support a society's attitudes, institutions and structures that underpin the development and peacebuilding. High levels of Positive Peace occur where attitudes make violence less tolerated, institutions and resilient and more responsive to society's needs and structures create an environment for the non-violent resolution of grievances.
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