US places No. 85 -- behind Libya -- in Global Peace Index
The 2010 Global Peace Index is an attempt to quantify which countries are the most secure and the least violent. New Zealand is No. 1, Iraq is last, and the US is in the middle.
The world is slightly less peaceful than it was a year ago, in part as a consequence of the global recession. But falling military expenditures in the Middle East and shrinking access to small arms in sub-Saharan Africa are two bright spots in an assessment of the world’s broad trends in peace and violence.Skip to next paragraph
Those are among the findings of the 2010 Global Peace Index, the fourth edition of an annual attempt to objectively quantify peace in a large majority of the world’s countries.
New Zealand ranks as the world’s most peaceful country, the survey finds, based on a list of factors ranging from military expenditures (high is bad) and participation in United Nations peacekeeping (high is good) to social unrest and incarceration rates (both are not good).
Iraq comes in last at 149 out of 149 countries assessed – the same ignominious placement it snagged last year.
And the United States ranks right in the middle at 85, achieving good marks for factors like respect for human rights and relations with neighbors and other countries, but low scores in areas like domestic homicides, military expenditures, and involvement in external conflicts. Given the criteria, the US not surprisingly comes up as “less peaceful” than countries like Austria and Costa Rica, but it also trails Libya, Cuba, and Equatorial Guinea.
“We work with a definition of peace that is not as the opposite of war but the absence of violence,” says Clyde McConaghy, board director of the Institute for Economics and Peace – the Sydney, Australia, think tank that amasses the information behind the Global Peace Index, or GPI. Weighing 23 factors ranging from domestic instability to militarization, the GPI “provides a snapshot of relative peacefulness among nations,” he adds.
A research team of peace-studies experts from around the world uses the compiled information to come up with the index.
The GPI’s conclusion that the world in 2009 was slightly less peaceful than in 2008 is based on the perspective that the global recession has been a catalyst for conditions that lead to violence. The GPI affirms a “correlation between economic prosperity and peacefulness,” Mr. McConaghy says.