The 16th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI) report, the world’s leading measure of peacefulness, reveals that the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.3% in 2021. This is the eleventh deterioration in peacefulness in the last fourteen years, with 90 countries improving, and 71 deteriorating, highlighting that countries deteriorate much faster than they improve.
Iceland remains the most peaceful country, a position it has held since 2008. It is joined at the top of the Index by New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark and Austria. For the fifth consecutive year, Afghanistan is the least peaceful country, followed by Yemen, Syria, Russia and South Sudan. Seven of the ten countries at the top of the GPI are in Europe, and Turkey is the only country in this region to be ranked outside the top half of the Index.
Two of the five countries with the largest deteriorations in peacefulness were Russia and the Ukraine, they were joined by Guinea, Burkina Faso and Haiti. All these deteriorations were due to ongoing conflict.
Of the 23 indicators in the GPI, the largest deteriorations were recorded in neighbouring country relations, intensity of internal conflict, refugees and IDPs, political terror scale and political instability. Twenty-eight countries have high levels of instability, and ten countries recorded the worst possible political terror score.
The global inequality in peacefulness has continued to increase. Since 2008, the 25 least peaceful countries deteriorated on average by 16%, while the 25 most peaceful countries improved by 5.1%. Since 2008, 116 countries reduced their homicide rate.
The cost of violence to the global economy was $16.5 trillion, or 10.9% of global GDP, which is the equivalent to $2,117 per person. For the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic impact was equivalent to 34% of GDP, compared to 3.6% in the countries least affected.
There were substantial improvements for several indicators, including terrorism impact, nuclear and heavy weapons, deaths from internal conflict, military expenditure, incarceration rates and perceptions of criminality. Terrorism impact is at its lowest level since the inception of the GPI.
Steve Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman of IEP said: “Last year we warned about the economic fallout from COVID-19. We are now experiencing supply chain shortages, rising inflation, and food insecurity that have been compounded by the tragic events in Ukraine. The political and economic consequences of this will reverberate for years to come.
“When combined with the record poor scores for neighbouring relations, political insecurity and intensity of internal conflict, governments, organisations, and leaders must harness the power of peace.
“The economic value of lost peace reached record levels in 2021. There is a need to reverse this trend, and the GPI has shown that those countries that implement the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, witness an improved economic outcome.”