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Global peace deteriorating

June 8, 2016

Global violence has reached its highest level in the last 25 years. That's despite a new ranking showing that the world would be growing more peaceful - if it weren't for conflicts in the Middle East.

Beglien Polizei bei einem anti-Terror-Einsatz in Brüssel
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Belot

The 2016 Global Peace Index, which measures 23 indicators, including incidents of violent crime, levels of militarization and imports of weaponry, said conflicts in the Middle East were mostly to blame for the rising levels of global conflict.

Most attacks classed as "terrorist" were concentrated in five countries: Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Infografik Global Peace Index 2016 Englisch

"Quite often, in the mayhem which is happening in the Middle East currently, we lose sight of the other positive trends," said Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which produces the index.

"If we look in the last year, if we took out the Middle East ... the world would have become more peaceful," Killelea said.

Over 100,000 people were killed in conflicts in 2014, up from almost 20,000 in 2008. Syria, with about 67,000 such deaths in 2014, accounted for most of that increase.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said the number of displaced people had probably "far surpassed" a record 60 million in 2015. Funding for UN peacekeeping operations reached record highs in 2016, IEP said.

High costs

The economic cost of violence in 2015 was $13.6 trillion (12 trillion euros), or 13.3 percent of global GDP, according to the index. That is about 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.

"However, 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.

Europe remains safest part of the world

Europe is the most peaceful region in the world, although the region's peace score dropped in the wake of attacks in Paris and Brussels. Iceland is the world's most peaceful country listed in the index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.

The United States was ranked 103rd most peaceful out of 163. Japan was ninth, Germany came in 16th and Britain was 47th. After last year's terror attacks, France dropped only one place to 46th.

The least peaceful country is Syria, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

jbh/sms (Reuters, dpa)