Global Peace IndexThursday, 4 June 2009
In London on 2 June I went along to the launch of the 2009 Global Peace Index. With expert assistance from the Economist Intelligence the index uses 23 factors to calculate how peaceful a country is – that includes its own internal peace, but also the danger the country presents to other nations.
This year the index analysed 144 different countries and New Zealand topped the list. The kiwis pushed Iceland off the top spot, the top five are New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Austria. Iceland’s fall was prompted by the country’s economic meltdown which has made Iceland less politically stable and even brought protesters out on the streets.
At the other end of the scale Iraq is still rated the least peaceful place in the world, beating out Afghanistan and Somalia for that dubious distinction. Next worst is Israel, its low ranking underscored by the assault on Gaza.
The index correlates remarkably strongly with general perceptions, if people tend to think a country is peaceful (or isn’t) the analysis usually shows their perception is correct. So if a country wants to convince the world that it’s a good place it should work on improving the factors that the index analyses – reduce prison populations, don’t export so many weapons, free up the press, they’re all good things to do.
Furthermore moving up the rankings doesn’t simply give your country a nicer image, a 10 place improvement is calculated to lead to a US$3,100 increase in per capita Gross Domestic Product, ie more peace equals more prosperity.