• Iceland remains the most peaceful country, a position it has held since 2008, according to the 17th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI). Iceland is followed by Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand and Austria.
• For the sixth consecutive year, Afghanistan is the least peaceful country, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, both Afghanistan and Syria recorded improvements in peacefulness.
• India is ranked at 126th position, climbing up nine ranks from last year’s report.
What is Global Peace Index?
• The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks countries according to their level of peacefulness. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness.
• The report presents the most comprehensive data-driven analysis to-date on trends in peace, its economic value, and how to develop peaceful societies.
• The GPI covers 163 countries comprising 99.7 per cent of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources.
It measures the state of peace across three domains:
i) The level of Societal Safety and Security.
ii) The extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict.
iii) The degree of Militarisation.
What the Index says about India?
• India is the most populous country in the region and ranks as the 126th most peaceful nation in the 2023 GPI. The country experienced an improvement of 3.5 per cent in overall peacefulness over the past year, owing to improvements in violent crime, neighbouring countries relations and political instability.
• The improvement on the neighbouring countries relations indicator occurred because of fewer incidences of cross border violence and ceasefire violations with Pakistan and China in 2022.
• Furthermore, the reduction in geopolitical tensions with China owing to the reduction in border incidents, as well as less social unrest more generally, led to an improvement on the political instability indicator.
Key findings of Global Peace Index 2023:
• Over the last 15 years the world has become less peaceful, with the average country score deteriorating by 5 per cent.
• Of the 163 countries in the GPI, 95 recorded deteriorations, while 66 recorded improvements and two recorded no change in score.
• Europe is the most peaceful region in the world and is home to seven of the ten most peaceful countries.
• The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remained the world’s least peaceful region. It is home to four of the ten least peaceful countries.
• The largest improvements occurred in MENA and North America. North America’s improvement was driven by improvements in Canada.
• The average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.42 per cent. This is the thirteenth deterioration in peacefulness in the last 15 years, with 84 countries improving and 79 deteriorating in peacefulness in 2022.
• The war in Ukraine had a significant impact on global peacefulness, with Ukraine and Russia having the largest and fifth largest deteriorations in peacefulness respectively. Haiti, Mali, and Israel were the other countries with the largest deteriorations.
• The largest regional deterioration occurred in the Russia and Eurasia region. Although this was primarily driven by a deterioration in peacefulness in Ukraine and Russia, many other countries in the region also experienced significant falls in peacefulness.
• The Ukraine war has seen the total number of Ukrainians who were either refugees or internally displaced jump from 1.7 per cent before the conflict, to over 30 per cent and is likely to continue increasing. Recent data has found that up to 65 per cent of men in Ukraine aged 20 to 24 years have fled the country or died in the conflict.
• Several conflicts, other than the war in Ukraine, have also been devastating. 2022 was the deadliest year for armed conflict since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the deadliest year in the history of the GPI. This was driven by more than 100,000 deaths in the war in Tigray in northern Ethiopia. The battles between the Ethiopian Defence Force, ally Eritrea and rebel group TPLF is the single deadliest event since 1994.
• Among countries, the largest improvement in peacefulness occurred in Libya for the second successive year, followed by Burundi, Oman, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), and Afghanistan.
• Both violence and peacefulness can be contagious. Actions in one region or country can spill over into bordering regions and countries, leading to virtuous or vicious cycles where peace and conflict move in tandem.
• Eastern Europe is an example of where changes in one country have led to large decreases in peacefulness in neighbouring countries. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 led to a surge in militarisation in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, with military expenditure and neighbouring countries’ relations deteriorating in all these countries.
• Coastal West Africa is an example of a virtuous cycle of peacefulness, where countries improved their GPI scores over the past 15 years, despite widespread violence in the neighbouring Sahel region, and a strong history of violent conflict. Other than Guinea, every single coastal West African country recorded an improvement in peacefulness from 2008 to 2023.
• Improvements in governance and political stability, as well as increased resources for policing and security services have played a key role in the increase in peacefulness.
• The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2022 was $17.5 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 12.9 per cent of the world’s GDP or $2,200 per person, increasing by 6.6 per cent from the previous year.
• The need for a systemic response to building peace is urgent. Conflict is intensifying in several regions, with conflict-related deaths rising rapidly.
• The gap between the most and least peaceful countries continues to grow, and although many measures of militarisation have improved over the past fifteen years, the proliferation of cheaper advanced military technologies, increasing geopolitical competition, and an underlying current of political instability in many countries means that a continuing deterioration of global peacefulness seems likely.