December 9, 2012

Finding a Measure of Peace

Can we measure the peacefulness of the world?  And beyond that, estimate the impact of conflict on the global economy?  On first consideration, these seem like impossible tasks.  After all, the drivers of human conflict are varied and complex.  But one organization–using a tool called the Global Peace Index–has set about to do both.

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an attempt to measure the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness. It is the product of Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and developed in consultation with an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks with data collected and collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The list was launched first in May 2007, and has been published each spring since that time. The study attempts to rank countries around the world according to their peacefulness. The index currently ranks 158 countries, up from 121 in 2007. The study is the creation of Australian entrepreneur Steve Killelea and is endorsed by individuals such as Kofi Annan, the Dalai Lama, archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, economist Jeffrey Sachs, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, and former US president Jimmy Carter.

About the Global Peace Index – from Visions for Humanity

The Global Peace Index takes into account 23 factors.  Factors examined by the authors of the index include both internal factors–such as levels of violence and crime within the country–and external factors–such as a country’s  military expenditure, its relations with neighboring countries and the level of respect for human rights. The index is showcased each year at events in London, Washington DC, Brussels and the United Nations in New York.

2012-Global_Peace_IndexAn article in The Guardian compared the 2012 Global Peace Index with 2011 and found the following:

  • Somalia is the least peaceful country at 158th position and with a score of 3.392. Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo make up the bottom five
  • There has been change for the the indicators as well. The top three largest improvements have been for the Political Terror Scale, terrorist acts and military expenditure as a % of GDP
  • Iceland has remained at the top spot as the most peaceful country in the world, after dropping in the rankings in 2009 and 2010 because of violent demonstrations linked to the collapse of its financial system
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is no longer the least peaceful region in the world, for the first time since the GPI began
  • The US moved from 82 to 88

One of the most interesting aspects of the Global Peace Index, is its estimate of the “peace dividend” – the added economic value if we had lived in a world totally at peace in 2011.  This year’s estimate: $9 trillion.  In addition to the human suffering that a world in conflict

You can explore the Global Peace Index yourself, by downloading the spreadsheet containing the GPI information, or using the interactive map on the Vision of Humanity website.


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