Preserving and promoting peace is a planetary priority; for social, environmental and economic prosperity. As the United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Agenda states: “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”
But peace is generally not easily perceived, defined or quantified. In the words of Stanford’s Peace Innovation Lab Executive Director, Margarita Quihuis: “In the world, peace is by and large invisible.”
So how can pro-active progress towards global peacefulness actually be achieved?
That’s where the vital work of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) comes in. Through their data-driven research and annual Global Peace Index (GPI), IEP provides the necessary data, metrics and insights to help quantify and analyse peace on a global scale.
At the end of June IEP released the Global Peace Index 2023.
What is the Institute for Economics and Peace?
Founded in 2007 by Steve Killelea, an Australian tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, IEP is an “independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress,” as is stated the GPI 2023.
IEP actually has two different concepts of peace – “Negative Peace” and “Positive Peace.”
“Negative Peace” is what’s measured in the GPI, but IEP also regularly publish a “Positive Peace Index” (read the latest report here).
🕊️ Contribute towards building sustainable peace. Start by understanding the different concepts of peace. pic.twitter.com/T0H94ydqFt
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 10, 2023
What is the Global Peace Index?
The GPI ranks 163 countries across the world according to their level of peacefulness, covering 99.7% of the world’s population. Each country is measured across three domains of peacefulness: “Ongoing Conflict,” “Societal Safety and Security,” and “Militarisation.”
The index is calculated using 23 indicators within these domains; some are calculated by IEP themselves, others come from sources such as the Economist Intelligence Unit and the UN (among many others). You can read more about which indicators each domain is comprised of here.
The GPI 2023 reveals many insights into the state of peacefulness across the globe last year, including rankings of the most and least peaceful countries; insights into the current trends and conflict hotspots; the total economic impact of violence; an overview of the global trends in “Positive Peace;” and much more.
You can view an interactive world map of the GPI 2023 rankings on Vision of Humanity, here.
Global Peace Index 2023: The average level of global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth consecutive year, with 84 countries recording an improvement and 79 a deterioration pic.twitter.com/SNYsomyX53
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 30, 2023
What was the global state of peace in 2022?
Some of the results the GPI 2023 found included…
While 84 countries improved in peacefulness in 2022, a total of 79 saw a deterioration. On average, global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.42% last year – marking the ninth consecutive year of deterioration.
In terms of the three domains: While on average, “Militarisation” saw an improvement in peacefulness, both “Ongoing Conflict” and “Societal Safety and Security” saw deterioration.
Deaths from global conflict increased by 96% last year, to 238,000, driven by the war in Ethiopia which saw over 100,000 deaths. Ukraine also saw at least 82,000 conflict-related deaths in 2022, with violence also significantly incerasing in Mali and Myanmar.
“2022 was the deadliest year for armed conflict in the history of the GPI,” the report stated, but went on to say that “conflict decreased significantly in Afghanistan and Yemen.”
The global economic impact of violence rose by 17% to $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to $2,200 per person or almost 13% of global GDP. And while 92 countries were found to have decreased military expenditure in 2022, on the whole it went up “driven by countries involved in the Ukraine war.”
Iceland was the world’s most peaceful country in 2022 (as it has been since the GPI began) while Libya, Burundi, Oman, Côte d’Ivoire and Afghanistan witnessed the largest improvements in peacefulness.
Despite this, Afghanistan was still ranked as the world’s least peaceful country in 2022, with Ukraine, Haiti, Mali, Israel and Russia witnessing the largest deteriorations.
Russia and Ukraine were both listed amongst the world’s ten least peaceful countries, with the report highlighting that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its consequences were the main drivers of the deterioration in peacefulness globally.”
Related Articles: Why We Need a New Definition of Peace | Peace in the Age of Chaos – Interview with Steve Killelea | Let’s talk about War and Peace! with Steve Killelea
“Ukraine had the largest deterioration of any country in the 2023 GPI,” the report stated. However, the report also noted that the intensity of global conflict was already rising even before the Ukraine war started.
The indicators “external conflicts fought” and “deaths from internal conflict” saw the largest deterioration out of all 23 indicators. The indicator for “political instability” followed, which was seen to deteriorate in 59 countries over the past year, improving in only 22.
As well as “military expenditure,” the “UN peacekeeping funding” indicator saw the biggest improvement.
The world’s least peaceful region remained the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), “home to four of the ten least peaceful countries in the world,” the report stated. However, MENA was also ranked second in terms of improvement in peacefulness (after North America), as major conflicts were seen to decline.
The world’s most peaceful region remained Europe, “home to seven of the ten most peaceful countries,” the report stated. Yet, after seeing deterioration across all three domains of peacefulness as a result of growing tensions with Russia, the report also stated that:
“Europe is less peaceful now than it was 15 years ago.”
The IEP also estimated that a potential Chinese blockade of Taiwan would result in a 2.8% reduction in global economic output (equivalent to $2.7 trillion) in the first year – “almost double the loss that occurred as the result of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis,” the report stated.
Discover the Global Peace Index 2023 key findings in 40 seconds pic.twitter.com/un95Np3T13
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 30, 2023
What trends were observed?
Some of the observed trends noted in the GPI 2023 include…
The world has become less peaceful over the past 15 years, with the level of global peacefulness deteriorating by 5% since 2008. The gap between the least and most peaceful countries is also continuing to grow.
“The average level of global peacefulness has deteriorated for 13 of the last 15 years, with no year-on-year improvements recorded since 2014,” the report stated.
“2022 saw a shift in the global distribution of violence,” the report also stated, explaining that while MENA and South Asia saw a decline in major conflicts, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region saw conflict intensify.
As Vision of Humanity described it, conflicts are also “becoming more internationalised,” as 91 countries are now taking part in some form of external conflict, whereas in 2008 this number stood at 58. What’s more, geopolitical competition was found to have fueled conflict in many countries.
“Both great and middle powers are competing for influence in states or regions by supporting competing interests through the supply of military assistance,” the report stated.
Drones are being deployed more often, “with both state and non-state actors increasingly using drones in attacks against both military and infrastructure targets,” the report stated. Large numbers of military and commercial drones were found to have been used in Ukraine, Ethiopia and Myanmar, with the total number of drone attacks found to have increased by over 40% in 2022.
Furthermore, the “terrorism impact” indicator has shown improvement in recent years, with the “epicenter” of terrorism shifting from MENA to sub-Saharan Africa. What’s more the “homicide rate” indicator has also improved, with the average homicide rate falling in all GPI countries over the past 15 years.
On the other hand, the indicators for “violent demonstrations” and “external conflicts fought” showed the largest deterioration in peacefulness over the past 15 years. The “relations with neighbouring countries” indicator also saw a significant deterioration in Eastern Europe; a region which also saw deterioration in the “Militarisation” domain, against the global trend.
Furthermore, a total of 15 countries now have at least 5% of their population as either refugees or displaced internally.
This represents almost 30% of the country's population pic.twitter.com/ymivroA5Hr
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 30, 2023
What trends in “Positive Peace” were observed?
IEP’s “Positive Peace” is made up of eight pillars, and is measured under three domains: “Attitudes,” “Institutions” and “Structures.” You can read more about “Positive Peace” and how it’s calculated here, and you can read more about the eight pillars here.
Some of the observed trends noted in the GPI 2023 report include…
From 2009 to 2022, “Positive Peace” increased by 2% globally, with 125 countries seeing improvement, 37 deteriorating and one remaining relatively unchanged.
The peak, however, was reached in 2019, and the world is still not back to these levels. After near continuous improvement in “Positive Peace” from 2009-2019 (mostly due to advances in technological and economic development), 2020 saw it deteriorate due to “policy responses to the pandemic.”
In terms of the three domains: The “Structures” domain saw significant improvements and was the main driver of improving “Positive Peace” since 2009; the “Institutions” domain also showed improvement, but only by around 1%; but the “Attitudes” domain deteriorated by over 2% during this time period, in 99 out of 163 countries.
The report noted that this reflects “increased polarisation of views on political and economic administration matters, as well as a deterioration in the quality of information disseminated to the public.”
By measuring #peace, we can get a data-driven picture of what’s working, what’s not & where we are best placed to direct resources to build more peaceful and resilient societies.
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 21, 2023
Redefining peace in 2023
Through their research, indices and conceptual frameworks such as “Positive Peace,” IEP are rewriting how peace is defined, measured, analysed and understood in the 21st Century.
As the first part of their mission statement reads: “We aim to create a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about peace.”
Furthermore, IEP’s founder, Steve Killelea, is also the author “Peace in The Age Of Chaos: The Best Solution for a Sustainable Future;” a thought-provoking book which explores his own “personal journey to measure and understand peace.”
What’s more, in an article published on Vision of Humanity, Killelea explained why a new definition of peace is essential in 2023.
In the article, whilst underscoring the importance of “Positive Peace” and outlining why a new understanding of peace is vital to navigate the challenges faced in modern times, Killelea expressed the importance of the journey towards global peacefulness:
“The answer to the question is not can we achieve global peacefulness, however; but how do we continuously improve from where we are now. Humanity has exhibited a slow but steady ability to create greater, more peaceful conditions over millennia.”
And as IEP regularly define it: “Positive Peace describes an optimal environment under which human potential can flourish.”
"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal." Martin Luther King Jr.
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) June 12, 2023
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the Featured Photo: Demonstration against the war in Ukraine. Featured Photo Credit: Markus Spiske.