Middle East is the Leader in Global Violence: Peace Index
File photo of a building destroyed in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo : AP)
File photo of a building destroyed in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo : AP)

Middle East is the Leader in Global Violence: Peace Index

According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, the world has become increasingly violent with conflict-related deaths at a 25-year high, terrorist attacks at an all-time high and more people displaced than at any time since World War Two.

The annual index, which measures 23 indicators including incidents of violent crime, countries’ levels of militarisation and weapons imports, said intensifying conflicts in the Middle East were mostly to blame.

But beyond the Middle East, the world was actually becoming more peaceful, researchers behind the index said.

Syria Seems to Be the Least Peaceful

Quite often, in the mayhem in the Middle East currently, we lose sight of the other positive trends. If we look at the numbers from last year– if we took out the Middle East ... the world has become more peaceful.
Steve Killelea, Founder, Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
Data provided by Alex Whiting. (Infographic: <b>The Quint</b>)
Data provided by Alex Whiting. (Infographic: The Quint)
The UN has said the number of displaced people is likely to have “far surpassed” a record 60 million last year. The index showed that most attacks it classed as ‘terrorist’ were concentrated in five countries - Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The economic cost of violence over the past decade was $137 trillion– greater than the global GDP in 2015, the IEP showed.

However, peace-building and peacekeeping spending remains proportionately small compared to the economic impact of violence, representing just 2 percent of global losses from armed conflict.

More than 120,000 UN peacekeepers are currently deployed in 16 operations worldwide. The largest are in Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan’s Darfur region, South Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic and Lebanon.

Another improvement in peace is a 10 percent fall in global military spending in the last three years, IEP said.

Building Lasting Peace

Europe is the most peaceful region in the world, although the region’s peace score dropped in the wake of attacks in Paris and Brussels. Deaths from such attacks in Europe have more than doubled over the last five years.

Last year, world leaders agreed to “significantly reduce all forms of violence” by 2030 and find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity, as part of a set of Sustainable Development Goals to fight inequality and extreme poverty.

Building lasting peace takes more than just improving security, Killelea said.

Quite often as an international community we lose sight of that and try and have a one shoe fits all (approach). For me the most profound thing about the index is the ability to use it ... to better understand the qualities ... which create peaceful societies.  

Iceland is the world’s most peaceful country listed in the index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.

The least peaceful country is Syria, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

(This article has been published as a special arrangement with Reuters)

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