The Institute for Economics & Peace released its annual Global Peace Index (GPI) this week, ranking countries based on 23 qualitative and quantitative factors, in order to determine the most and least-peaceful nations in the world. This year, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Benin were the four countries that made the most improvement, while Iceland was ranked the most peaceful nation in the world.
The study found 81 countries became more peaceful while 78 didn’t, as indicated by the measures used in the study. Europe ranked as the region that was the most peaceful overall, with Greece improving the most in the region. The study cited a reduction in violent crime and political terror as the two primary reasons for the nation moving up 22 places.
The institute focuses on measuring peace holistically, believing that “Peace is more than just the absence of conflict,” according to the institute’s website. This edition of the study is the ninth, with the first report dating to 2007. The three broad categories used to calculate the GPI are 1) the level of safety and security in a society, 2) the number of international and domestic conflicts, and 3) the degree of militarization.
Below is a closer look at the four most improved countries:
The report found that the “holding of credible and predominantly peaceful elections in 2014 has reduced tensions and improved security; that the army accepted the result was also a sign of greater stability.” In April 2013, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement released by the US Department of Justice: "Antonio Indjai [military commander at the time] conspired to use his power and authority to be a middleman and his country to be a way-station for people he believed to be terrorists and narco-traffickers so they could store, and ultimately transport narcotics to the United States, and procure surface-to-air missiles and other military-grade hardware to be used against United States troops.”
Under foreign pressure, new president Jose Mario Vaz began to reform the military, beginning by dismissing Mr. Indjadi. However, Guinea-Bissau still ranks in the bottom half of the index, coming in at #120 of the 162 countries ranked, with its drug trade cited as a continued problem.
The nation still ranks in the bottom half of countries ranked, at #105. The report largely cites an increase in social stability and easing of domestic conflicts for the rise in rank. In 2013, Freedom House reported that “Côte d’Ivoire has yet to reckon with the crimes committed during the conflict that followed the November 2010 presidential election, in which 3,000 people were killed and over 150 women were raped,” prompting the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the post-election violence.
Former Army Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, backed by the Egyptian military, was elected president in May 2014. The report found the election brought “greater political stability and a decrease in the intensity of internal conflict for now.” Supporters of Mr. Sisi highlighted reasonably high voter turnout rates near 50 percent, while opponents critiqued the heavy-handed methods used to get votes. During the election season, The Christian Science Monitor reported an extension of the voting period, fine threats for non-voters, and found “the vote revealed Sisi’s support to be smaller than many thought.” At the time of the election, the Democracy International’s monitoring team issued a statement saying, “Egypt’s repressive political environment made a genuinely democratic presidential election impossible.”
An improvement in the “intensity of internal conflict” led to the 29-place improvement for Benin. The African Union authorized 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin to combat Boko Haram in February 2015. Benin also announced and held elections for their National Assembly in April 2015, which the report cited as playing a substantial role in this change in rank, putting the country 77th overall.