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20 Jun, 2014

Global violence in 2013 cost US$9.8 trillion in lost GDP or $1,350 per person – Global Peace Index

LONDON, June 18, 2014 Vision of Humanity media release – Terrorist activity, the number of conflicts fought, and the number of refugees and displaced persons were the key contributors to the continuing deterioration in global peacefulness last year. This confirms a seven year gradual, but significant downward slide, which overturns a 60-year trend of increasing global peacefulness dating back to the end of the Second World War.

The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence last year was estimated to be US$9.8 trillion, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) released today. This is equivalent to 11.3% of global GDP – equal to twice the size of the 54 countries in the African economy.

Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP observed, “Many macro factors have driven the deterioration in peace over the last seven years including the continued economic repercussions of the Global Financial Crisis, the reverberations of the Arab Spring, and the continued spread of terrorism. As these effects are likely to continue into the near future; a strong rebound in peace is unlikely.

“This is resulting in very real costs to the world economy; increases in the global economic impact of violence and its containment are equivalent to 19% of global economic growth from 2012 to 2013. To put this in perspective, this is around $1,350 per person. The danger is that we fall into a negative cycle: low economic growth leads to higher levels of violence, the containment of which produces lower economic growth.”

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which produces the report, has also developed new statistical modelling techniques to identify the 10 countries most threatened by increased levels of unrest and violence in the next two years. These models have a 90% historical accuracy. Countries with higher levels of risk include Zambia, Haiti, Argentina, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and World Cup 2022 host Qatar.

The new methodology analyses a data set stretching back to 1996, and compares countries with the performance of states with similar institutional characteristics.

“What is transformational in this analysis is our ability to compare a country’s current level of peace with the potential for it to increase or decrease in violence in the future. A country’s potential for peace is shaped by many positive factors including sound institutions, well- functioning government, low levels of corruption and a pro-business environment which we call the Pillars of Peace. These models are revolutionary for assessing country risk; positive peace factors tend to align over longer periods of time with actual levels of violence thereby allowing real predictive accuracy,” said Killelea.

“Given the deteriorating global situation we cannot be complacent about the institutional bedrocks for peace: our research shows that peace is unlikely to flourish without deep foundations. This is a wakeup call to governments, development agencies, investors and the wider international community that building peace is the prerequisite for economic and social development.”

In the IEP’s current assessment, Cote d’Ivoire recorded the second biggest improvement in the GPI 2014 with reductions in the likelihood of violent demonstrations and in the number of displaced persons, while the largest improvement occurred in Georgia, as it gradually returns to normality following its 2011 conflict with Russia.

The most peaceful region of the world continues to be Europe while the least peaceful region is South Asia. Afghanistan has been displaced at the bottom of the index by Syria due to a slight improvement in its peace while Syria continued to deteriorate. South Sudan experienced the largest drop in the index this year falling to 160th and now ranking as the third least peaceful country. Major deteriorations also occurred in Egypt, Ukraine and Central African Republic.


Europe once again leads the world in terms of its overall levels of peace, with the Scandinavian countries performing particularly well. The top five positions remain unchanged from 2013. Most of the improvements in peace are in the Balkans, an area that has traditionally been the most turbulent in the region.

North America’s score deteriorates slightly, mostly on account of a rise in terrorist activity in the US, related to the Boston-marathon attack in April 2013. The region retains its position as the second-most peaceful in the world, largely on account of Canada’s score.

The Asia-Pacific region remains among the most peaceful in the world: it ranks third, behind Europe and North America, and suffers only a very modest deterioration from its 2013 score. The Philippines saw a deterioration in its ‘relations with neighbouring countries’ score on the back of tensions with China relative to the South China Sea dispute. Countries in the Indochina sub-region, as well as North Korea, continue to be at the bottom of the region. In contrast, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan all rank in the top 30.

South America scores slightly above the global average, with the strongest improvements coming from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. In contrast Uruguay, which retains its position as the region’s most peaceful country, sees its score deteriorate as a result of a rise in the number of police and security forces. Internal tensions underline the trends in the two lowest- scoring countries in the region, Colombia and Venezuela.

Peace in Central America and the Caribbean remains challenging, but the region manages to improve slightly compared to its 2013 score and ranks only slightly below the global average. Jamaica and Nicaragua are the biggest improvers through improvements in their domestic safety and security scores. Mexico, which continues to be mired in a vicious drug war, falls slightly due to an increase in the number of internal security officers.

Sub-Saharan Africa sees the second largest deterioration in the regional scores but still fares better than Russia and Eurasia, Middle-East and North Africa as well as South Asia. Four out of the ten countries with the largest negative score changes come from this region, topped by South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Russia and Eurasia shows a modest improvement in the rankings, and benefits from positive score changes from all but four of the twelve states in the region. Undoubtedly, the key event in the region is the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. This caused both Ukraine and Russia’s performance in domestic and international conflict to tumble. Russia remains the least peaceful country in the region and one of the poorest performers globally, ranking 152nd.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remains in the headlines as numerous conflicts stemming from the Arab Spring continue to escalate. Egypt and Syria are, unsurprisingly, the two countries that see their overall scores deteriorate most, with Egypt suffering the second- steepest decline globally.

South Asia remains at the bottom of the overall regional rankings; however its score did improve more substantially than any other region. All countries in South Asia improved their overall scores, especially their domestic peace. The recent elections in Afghanistan proceeded without major incident in early April, with its political terror score improving, however being partly offset by increased terrorist activity and military expenditure. Other improvements are in the levels of political terror, as well as in the number of refugees and displaced people in Sri Lanka and Bhutan.


Since 2008, 111 countries have deteriorated in levels of peace, while only 51 have increased.

Europe retains its position as the most peaceful region with 14 of the top 20 most peaceful countries.

The world has become less peaceful over the last year, mainly due to a rise in terrorist activity, the number of conflicts fought and the number of refugees and displaced people.

500 million people live in countries at risk of instability and conflict, 200 million of whom live below the poverty line.

The Global Economic Impact of violence reached US$9.8 trillion last year, which is equal to 2 times the total GDP of Africa.


The most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand.

Georgia, Cote d’Ivoire and Libya all made the biggest improvements in peace since last year. A common characteristic in all these countries is the ongoing improvement in political stability in the wake of conflict.

Syria replaces Afghanistan as the world’s least peaceful country. South Sudan experienced the largest fall on the Global Peace Index and dropping 16 places to rank 160th of 162 countries.

Quote from Steve Killelea

“Given the deteriorating global situation we cannot be complacent about the institutional bedrocks for peace: our research shows that peace is unlikely to flourish without deep foundations. This is a wakeup call to governments, development agencies, investors and the wider international community that building peace is the prerequisite for economic and social development.”

Trends in Peace

Trends in peace are shifting from hostility between states, to a rise in the number and intensity of internal conflicts.

Since 2008 only four of the Global Peace Index’s 22 indicators showed improvement, while 18 deteriorated.

Assessing Country Risk

This year the analysis includes findings from a new country risk analysis. The research has identified 10 countries likely to deteriorate in peace over the next two years are: Zambia, Haiti, Argentina, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and Qatar.

Countries at risk span all regions and represent all government types except for full democracies. To find out more about countries at risk, download the Global Peace Index 2014 Report and skip to page 55.

Economic Impact

The economic cost of violence to the global economy is equivalent to around US$1,350 per person, or twice the size of Africa’s economy.

To explore violence containment spending by country, download the Economic Impact of Violence Containment, a report that details the cost of violence in over 150 countries according to 13 different types of violence related spending.


The Global Peace Index ranks 162 countries covering 99.6% of the world’s population. The Index gauges global peace using three themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. It ranks countries according to 22 indicators of peace. Read the Global Peace Index methodology article for a full list of indicators, scores, weighting and more.


Explore the Global Peace Index interactive map to see where the countries of the world rank according to their peacefulness. Download the 2014 Global Peace Index Report to read an analysis of the state of peace, as well as the countries most at risk of becoming less peaceful.