In a world grappling with mounting conflicts and dwindling peace, the release of the 17th edition of the Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) unveils a stark reality. While the global trend of declining peacefulness casts a shadow of uncertainty, one nation emerges as a beacon of hope. North America, driven by the unwavering determination of Canada, showcases a resolute positive trend that defies the prevailing chaos. This report serves as a testament to Canada’s unwavering commitment and courageous strides towards fostering harmony. As the world’s premier measure of peacefulness, the Global Peace Index meticulously unravels the intricate tapestry of cultural, economic, and political dynamics shaping our collective destiny.
This is in stark contrast to last year when the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI), Canada failed to secure a spot among the top 10 most peaceful countries for the first time in nearly a decade. The index cited Canada’s anti-government sentiment as the primary reason for its decline. In 2022 the nation experienced a 4.8% deterioration, driven by significant increases in indicators such as “political terror” and “violent demonstrations,” with the former doubling within a year.
While North America, led by Canada, has shown positive strides in terms of peacefulness, the rest of the world is facing significant challenges. The Global Peace Index reveals a troubling global trend of declining peacefulness, with conflicts escalating and conflict-related deaths reaching the highest level seen this century. Various regions, from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and the Asia-Pacific, have experienced intensified conflicts and deteriorating peacefulness. The economic impact of violence has also surged, placing a substantial burden on economies worldwide. These findings underscore the pressing need for concerted efforts and international cooperation to address the root causes of conflicts and promote peace on a global scale.
Key Results: Escalation of Conflict Deaths and Worsening Global Peacefulness
The Global Peace Index reveals alarming statistics, indicating a significant escalation of conflict-related deaths and a decline in global peacefulness. The key findings are as follows:
1. Deaths from Global Conflict Increased by 96% to 238,000
The report highlights a staggering 96% increase in deaths resulting from global conflicts, reaching the highest level witnessed this century. This sharp rise in violence underscores the growing instability and intensity of conflicts worldwide.
2. Ethiopia Surpasses Ukraine in Conflict Deaths
Surprising new data reveals that Ethiopia has surpassed Ukraine in the number of conflict-related deaths. The Ethiopian conflict has witnessed a higher death toll, eclipsing the previous global peak observed during the Syrian war. This revelation sheds light on the gravity of the Ethiopian conflict and its devastating toll on human lives.
3. Increased Levels of Conflict in 79 Countries
A concerning trend emerges as 79 countries experience heightened levels of conflict. Among the countries affected are Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Israel, and South Africa. This widespread increase in conflicts signals the urgent need for peacebuilding efforts and international cooperation.
4. Global Economic Impact of Violence Increases by 17%
The economic consequences of violence have surged, with the global impact increasing by 17% or $1 trillion. The total economic cost of violence now stands at a staggering $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to approximately 13% of global GDP. This substantial economic burden highlights the far-reaching implications of conflicts on economies worldwide.
5. Chinese Blockade of Taiwan: Potential Global Economic Loss of $2.7 Trillion
The report raises concerns regarding a potential Chinese blockade of Taiwan, warning of a drastic drop in global economic output amounting to $2.7 trillion, equivalent to 3% of global GDP in the first year alone. The consequences would be severe, particularly for China and Taiwan, with China’s economy estimated to shrink by 7% and Taiwan’s by nearly 40%. The interdependencies of the global economy underscore the vulnerability to geopolitical tensions.
6. Conflicts Becoming More Internationalized
A notable trend highlighted by the report is the increasing internationalization of conflicts. Currently, 91 countries are involved in some form of external conflict, marking a significant increase from 58 countries in 2008. This global interconnectedness underscores the challenges faced by the international community in resolving conflicts and promoting lasting peace.
Impact of the War in Ukraine on Peacefulness
The report delves into the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine on peacefulness. Ukraine witnessed the most substantial deterioration, falling 14 places to 157th in the Global Peace Index rankings. The economic impact of violence within Ukraine has surged by an alarming 479%, amounting to $449 billion, which accounts for 64% of the country’s GDP. These figures illustrate the devastating consequences of the conflict on Ukraine’s economy.
Interestingly, amidst the conflict, Russia has seen improvements in certain internal factors. The country’s incarceration rate, violent demonstrations, terrorism impact, and homicide rates have all shown positive trends over the past year. In fact, the homicide rate in Russia has reached its lowest level since the inception of the Global Peace Index in 2008. However, it is important to note that the conflict in Ukraine continues to have a significant impact, leading to mass displacement and loss of life. Shockingly, recent data suggests that up to 65% of men in Ukraine aged 20 to 24 have either fled the country or perished in the conflict. The report estimates that the conflict has resulted in approximately 83,000 deaths thus far.
Global Peace Index Findings: Overall Deterioration and Regional Insights
The 17th edition of the Global Peace Index reveals an overall decline in global peacefulness. Out of the 163 countries assessed, 79 recorded a decline, while 84 showed improvement. Iceland retains its position as the most peaceful country, a distinction it has held since 2008. Other countries ranking high on the peacefulness index include Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Austria. In contrast, Afghanistan remains the least peaceful country for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report highlights shifting dynamics in conflicts, with both Afghanistan and Syria experiencing improvements in peacefulness despite ongoing challenges. However, Ukraine recorded a significant decline of 13%, making it the country with the largest deterioration in the 2023 Global Peace Index. On the other hand, Libya witnessed the most substantial improvement, enhancing its overall peacefulness by 7% and rising 14 places in the index.
The regional distribution of conflicts reveals significant insights. Major conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and South Asia have declined, while conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region have intensified. The Russia and Eurasia region experienced the most substantial deterioration in peacefulness globally.
The Global Peace Index assesses multiple indicators to evaluate peacefulness. Out of the 23 indicators considered, ten improved, eleven deteriorated, and two remained unchanged. The most significant deteriorations were observed in the indicators of External Conflicts Fought and Deaths from Internal Conflict. Other notable deteriorations included Neighboring Country Relations and Political Instability, with 59 countries witnessing declines in these areas.
The Economic Impact of Violence and Militarization Trends
The total economic cost of violence increased by $1 trillion, reaching a record $17.5 trillion, equivalent to 13% of global GDP. This amounts to approximately $2,200 per person. The disparity in the economic impact of violence is striking, with the ten most affected countries averaging 34% of GDP, compared to only 3% for the ten least affected countries. This disparity highlights the disproportionate burden placed on certain nations due to conflicts and violence.
In terms of militarization, the report reveals a notable shift in military expenditure. While conflicts continue to escalate, more countries are redirecting military spending towards other priorities such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and pandemic recovery. This shift reflects a growing recognition of the need to address societal needs beyond militarization. Widespread improvements in militarization were observed across all regions, although total military spending increased by 17% since 2008. China, the United States, and India accounted for the largest increases in military expenditure.
The report also highlights the increasing utilization of drones in conflicts. Drone attacks rose by 41% in 2022, with an accompanying 24% increase in the number of different groups employing drones. This trend underscores the evolving nature of warfare and the growing role of technology in conflicts.
Regional Highlights: Varied Peacefulness and Unique Challenges
The Global Peace Index offers insights into regional variations in peacefulness and the unique challenges faced by different regions:
- North America witnessed an improvement in peacefulness, largely driven by Canada. However, the United States experienced a slight deterioration, particularly concerning the rise in homicide rates, which are now six times higher than those in Western Europe.
- The MENA region has seen significant improvements in peace since 2016, although it remains the least peaceful region overall. The epicenter of terrorism has shifted from the MENA region to sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Sahel.
- Central America, the Caribbean, and South America have experienced substantial deteriorations, primarily driven by repression, violence, and conflicts within the region.
- Coastal West Africa has reached its highest level of peacefulness since the inception of the Global Peace Index in 2008. Countries in the region have recorded an average improvement of 5% in the past 14 years. Notably, the coastal region between Morocco and Ghana reported no deaths from terrorism in 2022, in contrast to neighboring countries in the Sahel.
- Europe remains the most peaceful region globally, despite the Ukraine war impacting the region’s military expenditure and neighboring country relations. Europe is home to seven of the top ten most peaceful countries. The Asia-Pacific region also boasts three of the top ten most peaceful countries.