In a bit of positive news, the Global Peace Index 2019 found that the world is more peaceful today than it was five years ago. Iceland topped the index as the most peaceful country in the world, while Afghanistan as the least. India ranked 141, after coming in at 136 last year.
“The 2019 GPI finds that the world became more peaceful for the first time in five years, with the average level of country peacefulness improving slightly by 0.09%,” said the World Peace Index report.
The report says the world has made the most progress towards peace in terms of militarisation, including expenditure on the military and safety and security; 98 countries made improvements in militarisation. There was also a “slight improvement” in political terror activities, refugees, and internally displaced persons.
“The increase in peacefulness was the result of a reduction in the severity of several major conflicts worldwide, which led to decreases in death from internal conflict,” said the report.
However, the index found that the tangible improvements were pulled down by the population’s perception that criminal activity and incarceration have increased.
Overall, 86 countries improved in peacefulness, while 76 deteriorated. In terms of ongoing conflicts—the worst performing category—Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, and Pakistan were the lowest-ranking countries.
What is the Global Peace Index?
Launched in 2007, the Global Peace Index is calculated on two indicators as weighted indices: 60% weightage to internal peace and 40% to external peace. These two categories are further divided into certain domains.
“The heavier weight applied to internal peace was agreed upon by the advisory panel, following robust debate. The decision was based on the innovative notion that a greater level of internal peace is likely to lead to, or at least correlate with, lower external conflict,” said the report.
Internal peace includes the following: perceptions of criminality, security officers and police rate, homicide rate, incarnation rate, access to small arms, intensity of internal conflict, violent demonstrations, violent crime, political instability, political terror, weapons imports, terrorism impact, deaths from internal conflict, and internal conflicts fought.
External peace is measured by the following: military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, armed services personnel rate, UN peacekeeping funding, nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities, weapons exports, refugees and IDPs, neighbouring countries relations, external conflicts fought, and deaths from external conflicts.
India slips five places on the Global Peace Index 2019
Among the seven South Asian countries, India ranks fifth on peacefulness. The report says India improved its rate of deaths of internal conflict and, despite having one of the five largest military budgets in the world, reduced the number of armed services employed.
However, Indians are at high risk of climate-related hazards, along with their neighbours, Pakistan and China.
Bhutan comes in first, Sri Lanka second, and Nepal third. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan follow the top three in that order.
“The average South Asian score improved last year due to improvements in Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, and a slight gain in Afghanistan. However, the region still has the second lowest rank,” said the report.
Bhutan ranks high as the 15th most peaceful country in the world, so South Asia’s rankings improved too. Along with Bhutan, Pakistan has the largest reduction in homicide rate.
The report also says that South Asia has lower levels of violent crime because conflict in the region is more likely political than criminal.
“South Asia’s score for every indicator in Ongoing Conflict is less peaceful than the global average, with four of of six deteriorating last year,” said the report.
Militarisation, nuclear and heavy weapons, armed services personnel rate, and military expenditure as a percentage of the GDP all increased in South Asia. In tandem, peacekeeping funding to the UN declined.
Moving forward, India needs to seriously address its exposure to climate change hazards. The government has already put in place several plans to address the growing concern for global warming, such as renewable energy targets, restrictions during pollutanting festivals like Diwali, and greater attention to technology that could aid research and development on the environment.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.