Global Peace Index shows rise in violence in Middle East

Institute for Economics and Peace report reveals ongoing conflicts in the region have changed the parameters of worldwide peace trends.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The conflict in Syria has caused the greatest refugee crisis of our generation.

Updated Jun 9, 2016

Compared to the Middle East, where violence has been on a steady rise, the world is becoming relatively more peaceful.

Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released the Global Peace Index for 2016 on Wednesday which revealed that the world became a more peaceful place despite increasing violence in the Middle East.

The index, based on 23 peace indicators, concluded 79 out of 163 countries listed were more restive due to terrorism and political instability. However, the level of peace improved in 81 countries.

The peace indicators cover the level of safety in society, the extent of involvement in conflict and the degree of militarisation.

The least peaceful countries appeared to be Syria, followed by South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

More than 470,000 people have died since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011.

The index showed most attacks categorised as "terrorist" were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Around 60 million people were also displaced due to ongoing conflicts across the world.

Worldwide violence in 2015 resulted in a loss of $13.6 trillion, which equals to 13.3 percent of the world's GDP. 


According to IEP founder and executive chairperson Steve Killelea, aside from the Middle East, the world seems to have become more peaceful compared to previous years.

"Quite often, in the mayhem which is happening in the Middle East currently, we lose sight of the other positive trends," Killelea added. "If we look in the last year, if we took out the Middle East... the world would have become more peaceful." 

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) personnel erects barbed wire fencing around Tomping Camp, where some 15,000 people who fled their homes following recent fighting are sheltered by the United Nations, in Juba.

Iceland ranked as the most peaceful country in the index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.

Killelea also pointed out that spending on peacebuilding and peacekeeping has decreased in regards to economic losses from the rising violence.  

"Peacebuilding and peacekeeping spending remains proportionately small compared to the economic impact of violence, representing just 2 percent of global losses from armed conflict," Killelea said.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to reduce all forms of violence by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goals Initiative. 

TRTWorld and agencies