Slim hope for world peace: report

Slim hope for world peace: report

Slim hope for world peace: report

A Palestinian protester uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes outside Ofer prison near Ramallah in this May photo. The map (inset) shows the global peace index rankings from least peaceful ones to most peaceful ones. REUTERS photo

The world may be witnessing an escalating conflict in Syria and mounting civil unrest in Europe, but the planet has become a more peaceful place, a study showed yesterday, highlighting particular improvement in Africa.

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Australian- and U.S.-based Institute for Economics and Peace, showed its first improvement in two years. For the first time, sub-Saharan Africa was no longer the world’s least peaceful region, losing that dubious distinction to the Middle East and North Africa in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring,” Reuters reported.

The survey studied 23 indicators across 158 countries, ranging from measures of civil unrest and crime to military spending, involvement in armed conflict and relations with neighbors. Aside from the deterioration in the Middle East, every other region in the world showed at least some form of improvement. Overall, global military spending looked to be beginning to fall, in part a consequence of the global financial crisis, while relations between countries were broadly improving, with leaders increasingly turning to diplomacy, not violence. The sharpest deterioration in peace, the report showed, took place in Syria, with several other countries in the region falling down the list.

Turkey ranked 130th
Qatar is the highest-placed Middle-Eastern country and non-democracy in 12th spot. Turkey ranked 130th among the 158 countries listed, dropping three places since last year’s report. Somalia remained the world’s least peaceful place, the report said, but in general, African countries were among the survey’s fastest risers.

In Latin America, improving relations between Venezuela and Colombia were the most striking example of improvement, the report said. In Asia, despite worries over a growing arms race and geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States, overall defense spending appeared roughly flat and conflict slightly down. Western Europe remains markedly the most peaceful region with the majority of its countries in the top 20. Iceland, probably the country most affected by the financial crisis after its economy and currency imploded in 2008, remained at the top of the list as the world’s most peaceful country.

Breivik factor in Norway
Greece, however, has been tumbling down the list, dropping 40 or so places over four years in the face of mounting civil unrest and crime as it struggles with tough austerity measures. Norway dropped out of the top 10 to 18th as a result of the violent attack by Anders Behring Breivik in July 2011 that killed 77 and injured more than 300.

Key findings

* Iceland is the most peaceful country for the second successive year.
* Syria tumbles by the largest margin, dropping over 30 places to 147th position.
* Somalia remains the world’s least peaceful nation for the second year running.
* End of civil war sees Sri Lanka as biggest riser, leaping nearly 30 places.
* If the world had been completely peaceful in 2011, the economic benefit would have been an estimated U.S. $9 trillion.