Peace across the world has declined to the lowest level in 15 years as uncertainty over post-Covid economic recovery and Russia’s war in Ukraine loom large, according to the 16th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI).
The report, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) thinktank, said the rise in food and fuel costs have increased food insecurity and political instability globally, especially in south Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.3 per cent in 2021, the report said.
Levels of political terror, bitter bilateral relations, refugees and internally displaced people are at their worst since the inception of the index in 2008.
The global economic blow from violence across the world was estimated at $16.5tn (£13.5tn) in 2021 or equal to 10.9 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product, the report said.
The 16th edition of the index covered 163 countries comprising 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.
The UK is up two positions to rank at 34.
Seven of the 10 countries at the top of the index were in Europe, while Turkey was the only country in the region to be ranked outside the top half of the index, it said.
For the fifth consecutive year, Afghanistan – in an exacerbated state of conflict since the US’s hasty withdrawal – was ranked the least peaceful country.
Yemen, Syria, Russia and South Sudan ranked above Afghanistan.
Ukraine was down 15 ranks to the 153rd position, right below North Korea.
Ninety countries improved their rankings compared to the previous year, while Russia and Ukraine were among 71 countries to deteriorate.
South Asia was the second least peaceful region with frequent and “violent demonstations” jolting nations over economic and political setbacks.
India, the most populous country in the region, ranked 135, one above central Africa’s Chad, despite improving in overall peacefulness in the past year by 1.4 per cent.
It noted that the deteriorations in India coincided with “a weaker economy and increases in political instability following the Covid-19 pandemic as well as continued communal violence between Hindu and Muslim citizens”.
Bangladesh, Brazil and Colombia were also part of the list of the countries to register staggering deteriorations in peace.
The US recorded its lowest level of peacefulness since 2008, with the report citing “civil unrest” continuing to be the “primary driver of the deterioration”.
Violent crimes in central America and the Caribbean increased by 4.4 per cent in 2022 to reach their highest level since 2008. Haiti had the largest deterioration in the region.
Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a 1 per cent deterioration.
South Sudan remains the least peaceful country in the region, despite an overall improvement with the number of deaths from internal conflict reducing by 15 per cent.
Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the IEP said the political and economic consequences of the Ukraine war will “reverberate for years to come”.
“When combined with the record poor scores for neighbouring relations, political insecurity and intensity of internal conflict, governments, organisations, and leaders must harness the power of peace.
“The economic value of lost peace reached record levels in 2021. There is a need to reverse this trend, and the GPI has shown that those countries that implement the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, witness an improved economic outcome,” he said.
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