Global Peace Index 2017
20 June 2017 The 2017 GPI provides a comprehensive analysis on the state of peace. It shows that amidst continuing social and political turmoil, the world continues to spend enormous resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace. The key to reversing the decline in peace is through building Positive Peace – a holistic framework of the key attitudes, institutions and structures which build peace in the long term. The 2017 GPI finds:
- The world slightly improved in peace last year but has become less peaceful over the last decade
- There has been a decline in militarisation over the past three decades
- Globally, the economic impact of violence on the economy is enormous
- Current peacebuilding spending focused on building peace is well below the optimal level
- Falls in Positive Peace make countries susceptible to populist political movements
Most of the nations in the GPI became more peaceful over the last year. 93 countries improved while 68 deteriorated. Over the longer run however, there has been an increase in ‘peace inequality’, with most countries having only small increases in peacefulness, while a handful of countries have had very large deteriorations in peace.
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, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark, all of which were ranked highly in the 2016 GPI. There was also very little change at the bottom of the index. Syria remains the least peaceful country in the world, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen.
The largest regional deterioration in the score occurred in North America, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The score for North America deteriorated entirely as a result of the US, which more than offset a mild improvement in Canada. The US’s score has been dragged down largely because of a deterioration in several indicators: the homicide rate, level of perceived criminality in society and the intensity of organised internal conflict. The latter measure has deteriorated because of the increased levels of political polarisation within the US political system. The US also has experienced the fourth largest drop in Positive Peace globally, after Syria, Greece and Hungry in the ten years to 2015.
Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world, with eight of the ten most peaceful countries coming from this region. However, while 21 of the 34 countries improved, the average peace score did not change notably, due to the substantial deterioration in Turkey, the impact of the terrorist attacks in Belgium and France, and deteriorating relations between Russia and its Nordic neighbours.
The indicator with the largest improvement was number, duration and role in external conflicts. This was mainly due to many countries winding down their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While in most cases the withdrawal of troops occurred some years ago, the indicator is lagging in order to capture the lingering effect of conflict. The indicator measuring political terror also significantly improved in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and the MENA. There were also general reductions in the number of homicides per 100,000 people and the level of violent crime.
The ten-year trend in peacefulness finds that global peacefulness has deteriorated by 2.14 per cent since 2008, with 52 per cent of GPI countries recording a deterioration, while 48 per cent improved. The global level of peacefulness deteriorated rapidly after the global financial crisis, however since 2010, the movements have been within a small range, resulting in this year’s levels of peacefulness returning to approximately the same level as in 2010.