The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) latest Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks 163 states and territories based on 23 indicators covering domestic and international conflict, societal safety and security, and a country's militarization.
Iceland ranks as the most peaceful country, and Syria, which ranks last. The United States comes in at 103, just behind Uganda and Guinea, while the UK comes in much further ahead at 47.
The authors say the world has become 2.44 percent less peaceful since 2008. While 77 countries improved over the past decade, 85 countries fell. While the latest index shows that more countries improved than deteriorated (81 to 79) compared to the prior index, the level of deterioration outweighed the gains.
Deaths from terrorism is up 80 percent, while the number of countries suffering more than 500 deaths as a result of terrorist acts jumped from 5 to 11. And only 23 percent of all the countries on the index have been spared terrorist activity. Europe is the most peaceful of the nine geographical regions on the new index, with North America coming in as the second. Not only did the Middle East and Africa (MENA) again rank last, it was also the region with the biggest drop since the previous index. Three of the five that fell compared to the prior year are also in that region: Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain.
"As internal conflicts in MENA become more entrenched," stated Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP, "external parties are increasingly becoming more involved and the potential for indirect or 'war by proxy' between nation states is rising. This was already evident in Syria with the conflict between the Assad regime and multiple non-state actors, and is now spilling into countries such as Yemen. There is a broader proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more recently both U.S. and Russia have increased their level of involvement."
The price tag on the violence added up to $13.6 trillion in 2015, or 13.3 percent of gross world product. Investments in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, in contrast, totaled $15 billion. Killelea notes that "peacebuilding and peacekeeping spending remains proportionately small compared to the economic impact of violence, representing just 2% of global losses from armed conflict. Addressing the global disparity in peace and achieving an overall 10% decrease in the economic impact of violence would produce a peace dividend of $1.36 trillion. This is approximately equivalent to the size of world food exports."
We are on this tiny planet together but we insist on creating imaginary borders to separate each other instead of uniting, fighting each other instead of loving, focusing on minor differences instead of knowing we are all alike. There is only one way to live and strive on this planet and that is to be a peaceful, enlightened species. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, but one day, one can hope.