Delivering peace for prosperity: Global Peace Index 2018
by Raquel GOMEZ
14 June 2018
The world is less peaceful than ever during the last ten years; violence has increased globally; positive peace is the answer to build peaceful societies, all according to the Global Peace Index 2018.
The founder and executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Steve Killelea, launched the twelfth edition of the Global Peace Index in Queen’s University Belfast’s Riddel Hall. The event was organised by the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace and Belfast City Council. The launch was introduced by Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Deirdre Hargey, and was followed by a conversation chaired by Enda Young, about a positive peace framework for Northern Ireland.
The Global Peace Index (GPI) (published annually by the IEP) ranks 163 countries according to their level of peacefulness. The index is focussed on the level of societal safety and security, the degree of militarisation, and internal and ongoing conflicts. It is the most comprehensive survey of global trends in peace, the economic value of peace, and how to develop peaceful societies.
According to the GPI 2018, it is the fourth successive year of deteriorations on the global level of peace. While 71 countries became more peaceful, 92 deteriorated in the measure of peacefulness; the index reveals a world in which tensions, conflicts, and crisis that emerged in the past decade remain unresolved.
Iceland leads the world ranking as the most peaceful country, a position it has held since 2008; at the other end of the spectrum, Syria is the least peaceful. The Middle East and North Africa are the least peaceful regions; Qatar, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Togo had the largest deteriorations.
The most peaceful regions in the world — Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, and South America — have suffered a decrease in their levels of peacefulness, mainly due to increases in the incarceration rate and impact of terrorism. GPI 2018 highlights the case of Spain, which experienced one of the five largest deteriorations owing to internal political tensions. The United Kingdom dropped six places to 57, and Ireland climbed two places to be ranked tenth.
According to the index: “The peacefulness of regions and subregions tend to rise and fall together, implying that attends to resolve conflicts need to take a regional rather than a narrow national view.”On the other hand, Gambia is the largest country with improvement, moving up 35 places as a result of a new political stability and an improvement in relations with neighbouring countries. Liberia had the second largest overall improvement, moving up 27 places, due to decreasing violence.
The results of the index shows that the global economic impact of violence increased by 2.1%, higher in 2017 than at any point in the last decade, mainly due to a increase in internal security expenditure. The impact of violence covers direct and indirect costs. According to the GPI report, “When a country avoids the economic impact of violence, it realises a peace dividend.” Likewise, the impact of peace mustn’t be overlooked, as there is a direct link between peace, economic progress, and prosperity. “In the last 70 years, per capita GDP growth has been three times higher in highly peaceful countries when compared to the ones with low levels of peace. Interest rates are lower and more stable in countries with higher levels of peace.”
Looking at Northern Ireland, sustaining peace has been a goal during the last 20 years. In this vein, Councilor Hargey emphasised in her speech the strong link between prosperity and peace: “In Belfast, we do appreciate the task of peacebuilding; it is one of the issues that the Council is concerned about at the moment. There is a connection between peace and prosperity, and between peace and better future for all of our citizens.” Hargey also highlighted peace based on justice, inclusion, and equality, and she emphasised social and economic inequalities across the city as a priority in building positive peace and growth.
Positive peace, as a transformational tool for countries, is the proposed answer by the GPI. “Positive peace can be used as an overarching framework for understanding and achieving progress, not only in levels of global peacefulness, but in many other interrelated areas, such as those of economic and social advancement.”
The IEP suggests a framework for building positive peace, based on eight factors that sustain peace and support an environment where human potential flourishes. It understands positive peace as the “attitudes, institutions and structures that creates and sustain peaceful societies”.
The pillars, as Steve Killelea explained, are interconnected; the improvement or decline in one of them has an impact on the others. In this sense, according with the GPI, “low levels of corruption, acceptance of the rights of others, and a well-functioning government are common leading indicators of future [stability]”.
Building peacefulness is not an unreachable utopia. Delivering peace is synonymous with delivering prosperity. Positive peace is a goal that can be achieved through well-functioning governments, equitable distribution of resources and rights, free flow of information, and improvement in community relations.