Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Craving Peace? Move to Norway, Avoid Iraq.

The first study of its kind ranks Norway the most peaceful country, and Iraq the least. (complete rankings.)

The Global Peace Index surveyed 121 countries, from Algeria to Zimbabwe. The Economist Intelligence Unit (the country intelligence division of The Economist Group that publishes The Economist newspaper) measured countries' peacefulness based on 24 indicators- including ease of access to "weapons of minor destruction" (guns, small explosives), military expenditure, local corruption, and the level of respect for human rights.

After compiling the Index, the researchers examined it for patterns in order to identify the "drivers" that make for peaceful societies. They found that peaceful countries often shared high levels of democracy and transparency of government, education and material well-being. (Source)

The Global Peace Index's main findings:

  • Peace is correlated to indicators such as income, schooling and the level of regional integration

  • Peaceful countries often shared high levels of transparency of government and low corruption

  • Small, stable countries which are part of regional blocs are most likely to get a higher ranking

And here now are the top ten most peaceful countries in the world:
  • 1: Norway

  • 2: New Zealand

  • 3: Denmark

  • 4: Ireland

  • 5: Japan

  • 6: Finland

  • 7: Sweden

  • 8: Canada

  • 9: Portugal

  • 10: Austria
The GPI states that in Norway "there is no internal conflict and involvement in external conflicts is limited to peacekeeping roles. Relations between Norway and its neighbouring Scandinavian countries, with which it shares a strong cultural and linguistic heritage, are very good; indeed, close co-operation with the other Nordic countries is a cornerstone of Norway's foreign policy. The rate of violent crime is very low, there is a strong level of respect for human rights, the political scene is stable and violent demonstrations are highly unlikely to occur, all of which indicate a harmonious society."

Moving on now to the bottom of the list:
  • 112: Angola

  • 113: Cote d'Ivoire

  • 114: Lebanon

  • 115: Pakistan

  • 116: Colombia

  • 117: Nigeria

  • 118: Russia

  • 119: Israel

  • 120: Sudan

  • 121: Iraq

And once again, here is the complete list of rankings.

It's worth noting that Afghanistan is not included in the list of 121.

Where do we stand in all this?

The United States is number 96, right behind Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Yemen. The ranking was brought down by engagement in warfare and external conflict, as well as high levels of incarceration and homicide. The U.S.'s rank also suffered due to the large share of military expenditure from its GDP, attributed to its status as one of the world's military-diplomatic powers."

Our neighbors fared better: Canada is ranked eighth, Mexico is 79.

You can read more about the Global Peace Index in this BBC article.

Coincidentally (or not?) the BBC today also has an article that reports people in European and Muslim countries see US policy in Iraq as a bigger threat to world peace than Iran's nuclear programme. Read it here.