The Guardian Weekly
17 June 2016
The world’s expensive slide into violence and unrest continued last year, with conflict, terrorism and political instability costing the global economy $13.6 trillion, according to the annual global peace index.
The 2016 index, which analysed 163 countries and territories, rates Syria the least peaceful country, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The world’s most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.
While levels of peace improved in 81 countries, the gains were undermined by larger deteriorations in another 79, meaning that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year. Among the greatest destabilising factors were terrorism, political turmoil and the intensification and persistence of wars in Syria, Ukraine, Central African Republic and Libya.
The Middle East and North Africa is once again the least peaceful region. Three of the five biggest declines in peace were in the region – Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. Violence and conflict in the region are so fierce that, when considered separately, peace in the rest of the world improved. The report says terrorism is at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict at a 25-year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in 60 years.
Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, which produces the index, said in Middle Eastern and north African countries “external parties are increasingly becoming more involved and the potential for indirect or ‘war by proxy’ between nation states is rising”.
By the beginning of 2015, a record 59.5 million people – one in every 122 humans – were either refugees, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
South Asia remains the second least peaceful region, with deteriorations in Afghanistan,
Nepal, Bangladesh and India, but modest improvements in Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In sub-Saharan Africa, Islamist terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and violence in South Sudan have damaged efforts to bring peace and stability.