The Global Peace Index 2015 highlights an increasingly divided world: while some countries are experiencing unprecedented levels of peace, others are facing increased violence and conflict. It shows that global levels of peace remain stable compared with 2014, but are still lower than in 2008. For the first time, the Index includes a section on ‘Positive Peace’ which they argue, highlights how peace is more than the absence of conflict. It finds that where ‘Positive Peace’ is stronger, development is more likely to be achieved.
The 2015 GPI uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the state of peace in 162 independent states. It covers 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index determines global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. The 2015 GPI has an updated methodology to account for the economic impact of violence on the global economy.
- Four out of the nine geographical regions experienced an improvement in peace: Europe, North America, sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and the Caribbean. The other five regions became less peaceful, particularly MENA.
- The safety of the society and security domain improved slightly, driven by falls in the homicide rate and the likelihood of violent demonstrations.
- The ten highest ranking nations in the GPI all being stable democracies. Nordic and Alpine countries are particularly well represented, as is Asia-Pacific: Iceland is the most peaceful country, with Iceland at the top and New Zealand, Japan and Australia coming in the top 10. MENA has overtaken South Asia as the most violent region.
- Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Tajikistan and Benin have all experienced improved peace and risen in the index. A common theme among them was a fall in the level of organised conflict.
- Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are the world’s least peaceful countries. Libya, Ukraine, Djibouti and Niger all experienced decreased rankings in the index.
- The global decrease in peacefulness has not been evenly spread: 86 counties have deteriorated while 76 improved, and MENA has suffered the largest decline of any region in the world over the past eight years.
- Only two indicators have markedly improved since 2008: UN peacekeeping funding and external conflicts fought. Neighbouring-country relations are stronger than in previous years, particularly in South America.
- External peacefulness has improved, with neighbouring-country relations stronger than in the previous eight years, particularly in South America.
- The economic impact of violence on the global economy is estimated at US$14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world GDP.
The paper concludes with a focus on Positive Peace, defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies rather than the absence of violence (negative peace). It can help understand: resilience; fragility; institutional capacity and political economy; goal 16 of the SDGs; and country risk. Rwanda, Myanmar, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia and Georgia have all increased their levels of Positive Peace since 2005.