THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 3 OCTOBER, 2016
NEW DELHI: The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place, concludes the latest Global Peace Index that notes that we are now further away from world peace than at any time in the past 10 years, and now only ten countries in the world remain free of war - internal or external.
According to the Index for 2016, Syria is the country worst affected by war -- with the GPIs ranking of Syria over the years showing how quickly the situation there has deteriorated. In 2008, Syria was ranked the world's 88th most peaceful country, out of 162 nations included in the table. Since then, with the rise of the Islamic State and the pitched fighting between pro and anti government forces, it has fallen from the middle to the very bottom of the list.
The only countries not at war are Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vietnam. Between 2015 and 2016, Brazil fell out of the list of countries not engaged in conflict.
The report states that the two indicators with the largest yearly deterioration were the impact of terrorism and political instability. Deaths from terrorism increased by 80 per cent from last year’s report with only 69 countries not recording a terrorist incident. The intensity of terrorism also increased with the number of countries suffering more than 500 deaths from terrorist acts more than doubling, up from 5 to 11. The second largest deterioration was in the political instability indicator and was driven by large changes within many countries spread across many regions. Among the countries with the largest deteriorations were Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Poland, Burundi, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
Iceland is once again the world’s most peaceful country, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal, which improved nine places. The five countries at the bottom of the index are all suffering from ongoing conflicts, with Syria ranking least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Terrorism is also at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25 year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in sixty years. Notably, the sources for these three dynamics are intertwined and driven by a small number of countries, demonstrating the global repercussions of breakdowns in peacefulness. Many countries are at record high levels of peacefulness, while the bottom 20 countries have progressively become much less peaceful, creating increased levels of inequality in global peace.
Over the past decade, the average country score deteriorated by 2.44 per cent with 77 countries improving while 85 countries deteriorated, highlighting the global complexities of peace and its uneven distribution.
The number of refugees and displaced persons increased dramatically over the decade, doubling from 2007 to 2015, to approximately 60 million people. There are nine countries with more than 10 per cent of their population classified as refugees or displaced persons with Somalia and South Sudan having more than 20 per cent of their population displaced and Syria with over 60 per cent displaced.
The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure represents 13.3 per cent of the world’s economic activity (gross world product) or $1,876 for every person in the world. To put this in perspective, it is approximately 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.
South Asia’s position remained unchanged at eighth out of the nine regions. Overall, the individual overall scores of Afghanistan, Nepal and India deteriorated, while for Bhutan,
Sri Lanka and Pakistan, scores improved modestly. Internal security concerns were heightened in Bangladesh and Nepal owing to anti-government protests that have led to an increased number of detainees. In terms of regional rank, most countries have remained unchanged, with Bhutan remaining the most peaceful and Afghanistan the least.
Following the withdrawal of most international forces from Afghanistan, the security situation has remained volatile. Domestic security forces have struggled to contain militant violence, which has posed threats beyond Afghan borders. This has caused its relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan, to deteriorate. Despite the Pakistani government’s crackdown on domestic terrorist activities by Islamist militant groups, the country has remained hostage to organised conflict, with rising numbers of casualties over the past year. The influence of the Taliban from Afghanistan has been particularly strong. As a result, Pakistan remains second from the bottom in South Asia.
India’s scores for ongoing domestic and international conflict and militarisation have deteriorated slightly. The country remains vulnerable to acts of terror and security threats at its shared border with Pakistan. As such, the number of deaths caused by externally organised terror strikes has risen over the year. India ranks 141 of 163 countries on the list.
Sri Lanka saw the greatest upswing in its score in the region. The country successfully conducted two sets of elections in 2015— presidential in January and parliamentary in August which brought a reformist administration with a strong mandate. The country’s increased peacefulness is also due to better relations with neighbouring countries, particularly India.
The full report can be accessed here.