The cost of peace in 2015: 13.3% of global GDP

The world’s least peaceful countries are Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia; India ranks 141 out of 163 countries, according to the index


The deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven mostly by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability across countries. Photo: AP
The deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven mostly by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability across countries. Photo: AP

Bengaluru: The world became less peaceful in 2015, and paid a heavy price for it. It took $13.6 trillion or 13.3% of global GDP to contain violence, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI). India spent $679.80 billion or Rs.45.3 trillion in 2015. This amounts to 9% of India’s GDP on a PPP (purchasing power parity) basis, higher than the 4.7% of GDP it spent on containing violence in 2014.

The index, which measures peace across 163 countries, is calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank. According to the institute, last year was marked by an all-time high rate of terrorism. Battle deaths rose five-fold over seven years to 101,406, a 25-year high.

According to the index, the world’s least peaceful countries are Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, while the most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal. Of the 163 countries studied, 81 countries became more peaceful in 2015, and 79, less so. India came in at 141 out of the 163 countries. Although its peace score declined, it climbed two spots up in the ranking from 2014.

“There is a slight decrease in peacefulness in India as there has been a slight increase in deaths from organised conflict and (a decrease in) the number of police officers and security personnel per 100,000 people,” said Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of IEP.

Among South Asian countries, India is at the bottom of the pack when it comes to the state of peace in the country, faring better than only Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Still, Killelea said political stability in the country has improved at the national level despite regional conflicts and the debate around intolerance in the country.

The annual index is calculated on the basis of three broad metrics: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, and the degree of militarization.

The deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven mostly by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability across countries. While the majority of terrorist activity was concentrated in five countries (Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) the breadth of terrorism was significant. Only 23% of countries in the index did not experience a terrorist incident. “If you exclude the Middle East from the analysis, the world would have become more peaceful,” said Killelea.

There’s a good reason to strive for peace, he explained.

“Addressing the global disparity in peace and achieving an overall 10% decrease in the economic impact of violence would produce a peace dividend of $1.36 trillion, and that is approximately equivalent to the size of world food exports.”

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