LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwire) -- 06/12/12 -- Improvements in the Political TerrorScale(1) and gains in several indicators of militarisation(2) arising fromausterity-driven defence cuts were the two leading factors making the worldmore peaceful in 2012, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI)released today. This reverses two consecutive years where the GPI has showna decline in global peace. If the world had been completely peaceful, theeconomic benefit to the global economy would have been an estimated US$9trillion in the past year (equal to the size of the German and Japaneseeconomies combined.)
The GPI is the world's leading measure of global peacefulness produced bythe Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It gauges on-going domesticand international conflict, safety and security in society, andmilitarisation in 158 countries by taking into account 23 separateindicators.
All regions apart from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) saw animprovement, with Sub-Saharan Africa lifting off of the bottom spot for thefirst time since the GPI was launched in 2007. Madagascar, Gabon andBotswana experienced notable improvements over the past year and the regionalso shows the largest improvement in 'Relations with Neighbouring States'from 2009 to 2012.
Through its decline in peacefulness the Middle East and North Africa is nowthe least peaceful region globally. The drop largely reflects the upheavaland instability driven by the Arab Spring. Indeed the five indicators thatdeteriorated the most across the GPI last year were measures of safety andsecurity in society, and appear to reflect turbulence that has shaken theArab world since December 2010. Syria's descent into civil war caused it tofall by the largest margin, followed by post-revolution Egypt and Tunisiarespectively.
"What comes across dramatically in this year's results and the six yeartrends is a shift in global priorities. Nations have become externally morepeaceful as they compete through economic, rather than military means. Theresults for Sub Saharan Africa as a whole are particularly striking --regional wars have waned as the African Union strives to develop economicand political integration." said Steve Killelea, founder and ExecutiveChairman of the IEP. "Peacefulness has returned to approximately the levelsseen in 2007, but while external measures of peacefulness have improved,there has been a rise in internal conflict. This is particularly noticeablein the rise in fatalities from terrorist acts which have more than trebledsince 2003."
The trend data also show a substantial gap in peacefulness betweendemocracies and other government types. Flawed democracies performsubstantially better than hybrid and authoritarian regimes which suggestthat measures of government repression, such as the 'Political TerrorScale' and the 'Level of Internally Organised Conflict', are closepredictors of peacefulness.
Killelea continued: "The six year trend analysis shows that countries inthe top and bottom of the Index rarely move out - suggesting peace is'sticky' at both ends. There is also a notable 'tipping point' after whichrelatively small gains in peacefulness seem to be associated with largefalls in corruption and large increases in GDP per capita. As countrieslook to develop policy-makers would do well take note of the Peace Dividendand review the frameworks that deliver the most peaceful societies."
OTHER REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
The Asia Pacific region's overall score improved by the largest extent fromlast year and included three of the top five risers. Sri Lanka experiencedthe greatest improvement in its overall peacefulness following the endingof its civil war. Bhutan showed robust gains to enter the top 20 for thefirst time mainly as tensions eased surrounding ethnic-Nepali refugees. ThePhilippines also showed a robust rise across a number of indicators.
For the sixth consecutive year, Western Europe remains markedly the mostpeaceful region with the majority of countries ranking in the top 20. WhileNorway dropped out of the top 10 for the first time to 18th position, threeNordic countries stay ranked in the top 10, with high levels of safety andsecurity indicating broadly harmonious societies free from conflict.
North America experienced a slight improvement, continuing a trend since2007. Canada jumped three places in this year's rankings as a result offewer casualties among its troops stationed in Afghanistan. The UnitedStates' overall score also improved slightly thanks to reductions in thepercentage of jailed population, although it slipped a number of places asa result of larger gains made by other countries.
Latin America also experienced an overall gain in peacefulness, with 16 ofthe 23 nations seeing improvements to their GPI scores.
NOTES TO EDITORS
GPI report, video, and interactive maps are available atwww.visionofhumanity.org.
About the Institute for Economics & Peace
The Institute for Economics & Peace is an international non-profit researchorganization dedicated to shifting the world's focus to peace as apositive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being andprogress.
In 2012 five new countries (Benin, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho andMauritius) were added to the index, bringing the total to 158 nationscovering 99% of the world's population.
For more information: www.economicsandpeace.org.
(1) The political terror scale measures levels of political violence andterror.
(2) Six of the world's top military spenders (Brazil, France, Germany,India, UK and the US) all cut their defence budgets in 2011.
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