LONDON, June 8: Kuwait is ranked as the 51st most peaceful country in the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2016 released Wednesday, a deterioration of 15 from last year’s rank, and is ranked second out of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The tenth edition of the GPI highlights a stark and growing inequality in global levels of peacefulness as the gap between the most and least peaceful countries continues to widen.
The study, by the international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace, finds that, while 81 countries improved, the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains, meaning that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year. Despite this some of the most peaceful countries are now recording historically high levels of peace.
In the last decade Kuwait has deteriorated in peace by 6 percent largely due to deteriorations in the indicator measuring political instability. The score for the Middle East and Africa (MENA), the least peaceful region in the world in last year’s report, dropped further as regional conflicts intensified, dragging down global peacefulness. So intense is the current concentration of violence and conflict in MENA that, when considered separately, the rest of the world’s average peace levels improved. Three of the five biggest declines in peace occurred in the region including Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.
Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP observed, “As internal conflicts in MENA become more entrenched, external parties are increasingly becoming more involved and the potential for indirect or ‘war by proxy’ between nation states is rising.
This was already evident in Syria with the conflict between the Assad regime and multiple non-state actors, and is now spilling into countries such as Yemen. There is a broader proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more recently both US and Russia have increased their level of involvement.”
The global deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability. While the majority of terrorist activity is highly concentrated in five countries — Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan — the breadth of terrorism is spreading, with only 23 percent of countries in the Index not experiencing a terrorist incident.
Europe, which was once again the most peaceful region in the world, saw its average score deteriorate in this year’s report in the wake of terrorism incidents in Paris and Brussels, with deaths from terrorism in Europe having more than doubled over the last five years.
The number of refugees and displaced persons has risen dramatically over the last decade, doubling to approximately 60 million people between 2007 and 2016, nearly 1 percent of the world’s population. There are now nine countries with more than 10 percent of their population displaced in some form; 20 percent of Somalia and South Sudan’s population respectively, and over 60 percent of Syria’s.
While the global economic impact of violence dropped by 2 percent when compared to last year’s report, it was still a staggering $13.6 trillion in 2015, equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment. This represents 13.3 percent of world GDP, or $1,876 per person. In the last ten years the economic impact of violence was $137 trillion; greater than global GDP in 2015.
Steve Killelea remarked, “The increasing internationalisation of internal conflicts has coincided with UN peacekeeping funding reaching record highs in 2016: it was the largest improved indicator in this year’s report with more deployed peacekeepers and more countries being up-to-date with their UN peacekeeping dues.
However, peacebuilding and peacekeeping spending remains proportionately small compared to the economic impact of violence, representing just 2 percent of global losses from armed conflict. “In 2015, violence containment expenditure in Kuwait totalled $18.5 billion PPP, a decrease of 2 percent from 2008. At 9 percent of GDP this was ranked 61st in the world. Addressing the global disparity in peace and achieving an overall 10 percent decrease in the economic impact of violence would produce a peace dividend of $1.36 trillion.
This is approximately equivalent to the size of world food exports.” Europe was once again ranked the most peaceful region in the world. The largest improvement since last year occurred in Central America and the Caribbean, while South America also made progress in its levels of peacefulness. MENA had the largest decline, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific respectively. MENA, which was already ranked the lowest in the 2015 GPI, had the biggest deterioration in peace this year, as the civil wars in Syria and Yemen deepened and led to increased external intervention.
Yemen, whose long-standing political crisis exploded into outright civil war in early 2015, witnessed a large slump, driven by the rising casuality rate, a large increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced people, and higher levels of terrorist attacks by both al-Qaeda and ISIL.
The report also provides an audit of the available data to measure Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals — the UN member states formal recognition of the critical nature of peacefulness in advancing global development.
It finds that, while there is some existing data to track progress and therefore hold member states accountable to meeting their targets, serious investment will need to be made to measure the goals. The report concludes with new research into resilience and what the IEP identifies as ‘Positive Peace’ — the attitudes, institutions and structures which sustain peace. It finds that, over the course of the decade, 13 times more lives were lost in natural disasters in low Positive Peace countries than in countries which are high in Positive Peace.