Institute for Economics and Peace & National Geographic News Blog & The Prague Post – 2010-06-23 18:16:05
The World’s Most Peaceful Countries
1 New Zealand
12 Czech Republic
Source: 2010 study by the Institute for Economics and Peace
â€¢ For more information, a full list of rankings and to review the IEP’s “Peace, Wealth and Human Potential” study, visit www.visionofhumanity.org
New Zealand Remains Most Peaceful Country in Increasingly Troubled World
National Geographic News Watch
(June 8, 2010) — The world became 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,” the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in a news statement.
“The increase in violence is depriving the global economy of assets when they are needed most. A 25 percent reduction in global violence would free up US $1.8 trillion annually — enough to pay off Greece’s debt, fund the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and meet the EU’s 20-20-20 climate and energy targets, IEP added.
The only study to quantify global peacefulness, the GPI was expanded in 2010 to rank 149 countries. “Composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, it combines internal and external factors ranging from military expenditure to relations with neighboring countries and levels of violent crime,” IEP explained.
“The research carried out by the IEP based on four 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, according to the analysis. Iceland moved into the No.2 spot as the country’s economy stabilized after falling to No.4 in last year’s ranking, the improvement demonstrating the resilience of peaceful nations, IEP said.
“The GPI continues its pioneering work in drawing the world’s attention to the massive resources we are squandering in violence and conflict,” said Jeff Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “The lives and money wasted in wars, incarcerations, weapons systems, weapons trade, and more, could be directed to ending poverty, promoting education, and protecting the environment. The GPI will not only draw attention to these crucial issues, but help us understand them and to invest productively in a more peaceful world.”
Despite slipping three ranks compared to last year’s results, partially because of new countries added to the GPI, the United States (85) improved its 2010 GPI score, registering its biggest year-on-year improvement since the first Index was released in 2007, IEP’s statement said. “The improvement came as a result of a decrease in the number of deaths from external conflict and an increase in political stability.”
Western Europe continues to be the most peaceful region, with the majority of the countries ranking in the top 20, the list found. “All five Scandinavian nations rank in the top ten; however, Denmark dropped five spots to No.7 because of decrease in respect for human rights and continuing involvement in Afghanistan.”
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.
“How peaceful a country is depends on the internal structures, institutions, and attitudes that sustain and promote peace as well as on external factors,” said Clyde McConaghy, board director of the IEP.
“This year’s top five countries, and more peaceful countries in general, have certain things in common: well functioning governments, stable business environments, respect for human rights, low levels of corruption, high rates of participation in education, and freedom of information.”
Highly peaceful societies also perform well in other ways, the 2010 Global Peace Index found. The most peaceful societies share the following social structures and attitudes:
â€¢ Well functioning government
â€¢ Sound business environment
â€¢ Respectful of human rights and tolerance
â€¢ Good relations with neighbouring states
â€¢ High levels of freedom of information
â€¢ Acceptance of others
â€¢ High participation rates in primary and secondary education
â€¢ Low levels of corruption
â€¢ Equitable sharing of resources.
With data now collected for the last four consecutive years, the Institute for Economics and Peace has also identified for the first time global, regional and national trends in peacefulness since 2007. “Key among those was a slight decrease in global peacefulness since 2007, with 62 percent of countries recording decreases in levels of peacefulness over that period of time,” IEP said.
“Despite the global slide, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa have made the most gains since the research began in 2007. Reasons for the improvement vary, but include more political stability and a drop in military expenditure in the Middle East and North Africa and less access to weapons, a decrease in conflicts and better relations with neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“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.”
Three BRIC countries — Russia (143), India (128) and China (80)– saw substantial declines in peacefulness, while Brazil’s score remained essentially stable (83) compared to the 2009 Index, IEP said.
“In fact, Russia saw one of the largest drops in peacefulness of any country this year due to its war with Georgia, ongoing acts of terror, and some protests across the country resulting from a deteriorating economic situation. China saw its score deteriorate because of worsening security in parts of the country, notably Xinjiang province, where violent conflict prompted rises in several measures of societal safety.”
“This research clearly indicates the strong positive relationship between peace and factors critical to successful business operations, including market size, cost structures and profits,” said Georg Kell, executive director, United Nations Global Compact. “Business leaders would be well advised to take this research into account when creating their strategic and operational plans and making investment decisions.”
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.
Czech Republic among Most Peaceful Countries
Gabriella Hold / Prague Post
PRAGUE (June 16, 2010) — The Czech Republic has been ranked the 12th most peaceful country in the world, with New Zealand taking the top spot for the second year in a row, according to the 2010 Global Peace Index.
The Czech Republic also ranked second among Central and East European countries, narrowly beaten by Slovenia, but ahead of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
The index, produced by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), ranks countries according to 23 measures of internal and external peacefulness including the level of domestic organized crime, the likelihood of violent demonstrations, military expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) and funding for UN peacekeeping missions.
It found that overall worldwide peacefulness declined for the year due to a 5 percent increase in homicides, more violent demonstrations and a greater fear of crime.
The Czech Republic scored highly on criteria such as the number of deaths from internally organized conflict, the number of homicides and the level of perceived criminality in society. It also benefited from improved political stability, low potential for terrorist acts, imports of major conventional weapons and respect for human rights.
“The Czech Republic scored pretty well,” IEP Chairman Steve Killelea told The Prague Post. “Interestingly, the three factors that caused the fall in peacefulness this year did not apply to the Czech Republic.”
But it was a poorer score than the 11th place ranking achieved in 2009 due to its ongoing participation in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the increase in the jailed population.
The country also scored badly on related indicators in the index such as freedom of the press and perceptions of corruption. But Killelea downplayed the fall, noting top countries were very sensitive to small changes.
Overall, Iceland ranked second in the index, followed by Japan, Austria and Norway. New Zealand, Austria, Iceland and Japan were the only countries in the top 10 to improve their rank this year.
Meanwhile, 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 IEP says the 2010 data shows an intensification of conflicts and growing instability linked to the financial crisis, with several countries seeing sharp increases in homicides, violent demonstrations and fear of crime.
Moreover, the increased violence is depriving the global economy of assets, with a 25 percent reduction in global violence estimated to free up $1.8 trillion (37.5 trillion KÄ) annually. This would be enough to pay off Greece’s debt, fund the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and meet the EU’s 20-20-20 climate and energy targets.
“The research carried out by the IEP based on four years of 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,” Killelea said.
Western Europe continued to be the most peaceful region, with the majority of the countries ranking in the top 20. Conversely, South Asia was the least peaceful, as a result of increased involvement in conflicts, a rise in deaths from internal conflict and human rights abuses. Year on year, Latin America had the steepest fall in peacefulness due to more internal violence, homicides and increased levels of perceived criminality.
Gabriella Hold can be reached at
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