There’s good news and there’s bad news. For the first time in five years, the Global Peace Index released by Vision of
Humanity found that “peacefulness” has increased globally.
The 2019 edition showed a slight increase in peacefulness
with Iceland ranked the most peaceful country, followed by New Zealand,
Portugal and Austria.
The bad news?
Despite this improvement, the world remains considerably less peaceful now than a decade ago, with the average level of peacefulness deteriorating by 3.78 per cent since 2008.
South Africa dropped two places. In sub-Saharan Africa,
Mzansi is ranked 32nd while it sits at 127th globally. Amongst the countries
ahead of South Africa in the global rankings is El Salvador (113th) and
Honduras (123rd) – both places where gang violence is rife.
How “peacefulness” is calculated
The report uses a variety of metrics across a number of
different sub-categories – what they refer to as “domains”. These
- Safety and Security domain
- Ongoing Conflict domain
- Militarisation domain
The three domains are further broken down into indicators
used to measure each one. Those
- Terrorism Impact
- Incarceration Rate
- Weapons Imports
- Political Instability
- External Conflicts Fought
- Nuclear and Heavy Weapons
- Refugees and IDPs
- Police Rate
- Military Expenditure (% GDP)
- UN Peacekeeping Funding
- Violent Demonstrations
- Political Terror Scale
- Perceptions of Criminality
- Intensity of Internal Conflict
- Neighbouring Countries Relations
- Homicide Rate
- Armed Services Personnel Rate
- Violent Crime
- Weapons Exports
- Internal Conflicts Fought
- Deaths from Internal Conflict
- Access to Small Arms
- Deaths from External Conflict
Where South Africa performed the worst
As you’ve already seen, it was pretty bad overall. But the
“Societal Safety and Security” domain was by far the worst.
The reduction of homicide rates in many Central and South American countries explains some of this. El Salvador, for example, had a 15 per cent fall in its homicide rate from 2016 to 2017, but it still has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.
The economic cost of violence
Again, South Africa was ranked 26th globally.
Economic impact is broken down into three categories: direct
costs, indirect costs, and a multiplier effect. The direct costs associated with violence include the
immediate consequences on the victims, perpetrators, and public systems
including health, judicial and public safety.
The indirect costs of violence refer to longer-term costs
such as lost productivity, psychological effects and the impact of violence on
the perception of safety and security in society.
The report estimates the economic cost of violence as a
precentage of South Africa’s GDP to be 13%. For comparison, Syria was ranked
first with their percentage at 67%. Iceland, which was the most peaceful
country overall, was estimated at three percent and Malawi at two percent.
But everyone around the world is stressed
Globally, feelings of sadness, stress and worry have
increased by a combined average of eight percentage points.
Even with improvements in certain aspects of wellbeing,
feelings of sadness, worry and stress are on the rise globally. The most
significant increases were seen in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa had the greatest increase in stress, increasing 18
percentage points from 2008 to 2018.
Experiences of sadness, stress and worry are on the rise regardless of peace as seen in the graphic below.
The report doesn’t detail why this might be, but you might
theorise that as we become increasingly connected with more access to just how much
is wrong with the world, we feel increasingly agitated and concerned about not
just our own wellbeing, but our loved ones.