‘Civil war and terrorism’ driving instability

Global Peace Index study shows world peace on decline due to internal conflict and dramatic rise in non-state violence.

Syria was placed last on the world's peaceful states, displacing Afghanistan

Syria was placed last on the world’s peaceful states, displacing Afghanistan

A dramatic increase in deaths caused by terrorism and internal conflicts has driven the world to one of its most unstable states since world war two, an annual report on peace has said.

The Institute for Economics and Peace, which has offices in Sydney, New York and Oxford, UK, said on Wednesday events such as the Syrian civil war and internal conflicts in Africa have made the 2013-14 period the seventh consecutive year to show a deterioration in world peace.

Those seven years defy a trend of increasing stability stretching back to the end of the second world war, it says.

The institute’s Global Peace Index of 2014 states that a steep rise in attacks defined as terrorism, an increase in the number of conflicts and the number of refugees were key contributors to the continued deterioration of the index.

The index also held grave warnings for 10 nations, including Qatar, Georgia and Haiti, which appear on a list of those most “at risk” of experiencing turmoil in the coming two years.

Syria for the first time anchored the table of 162 nations, displacing Afghanistan as the worst in the world. Major deteriorations were recorded in the South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt and Ukraine.

Daniel Hyslop, the vice-president of research at the institute, said that the index that war in Syria and internal conflicts in Africa made the likelihood of an improvement in the short term difficult.

“The conclusion of the report is that the world has become less peaceful for the seventh year running. There are two major reasons why, especially in the past year: an increase in terrorism and the levels of internal conflict.

“Terrorism is where we have seen the most dramatic change. The breadth and depth of terrorism has increased. Prior to September 11, there were only 38 countries that had deaths from terrorism. Today that is 58.

“If you look at the number of deaths, prior to September 11 we had about 2,500 deaths from terrorism a year – in 2013, there were 17,000.”

The institute uses an international standard to define terrorism: violent action by a non-state actor with a social, political or ideological goal.

Hyslop said that wars in Africa, including Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, were contributing to the deterioration.

“The conflicts have been quite specific to those nations. They are a consequence of a lack of governance and a lack of the pillars of peace – such as social inclusion, transparency and distribution of resources. Those are the underlying drivers,” he said.

Hyslop added that while the world was slipping, traditional warfare – fought between nations on a grand scale – was becoming a thing of the past.

“If you look at the trends, we have got a handful of civil wars, if you look at Ukraine and Iraq it is hard to imagine an improvement, but on the positive side, there are fewer inter-state conflicts and we have certainly seen that trend over the last seven years,” he said

“Countries generally no longer go to war with one another.

“If you look at a lot of the post-conflict states of the last 20 years it is a pretty positive story. Liberia has improved dramatically. Countries can bounce back. It is not all doom an gloom.”

Hyslop said he hoped that the institute’s research would allow countries to identify their problems and improve their scores on the index.

“One of the key messages we want to convey is for nations to use this research to shift the focus to the long term. Too often they focus on short term solutions.

“What we can observe from this research is that over many many years you can build up these factors to build peace. If you can measure these you can track them over time, and find whether policies are helping or hindering.”





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