According to the recently published Global Peace Index for 2023, the world’s peacefulness is marked by stark contrasts as nations grapple with varying degrees of conflict and security. Iceland has once again claimed the top position as the most peaceful country for the 15th consecutive year, despite a slight deterioration in its overall score. Meanwhile, Afghanistan remains entrenched as the least peaceful country for the eighth consecutive year. Let’s delve deeper into the rankings and significant developments that have shaped the peace landscape worldwide.
In Afghanistan, ongoing violence and conflict have incurred a heavy toll on both human lives and the economy. The nation’s GDP bore the weight of the conflict, with a staggering 46.5 percent lost in 2022 alone. Yemen follows closely behind as the second least peaceful country, trailed by Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, Ukraine, Somalia, Sudan, and Iraq.
The Middle East and North Africa region, despite retaining its status as the least peaceful globally, showcased notable improvements. Countries like Libya experienced significant strides towards peace, marking its most peaceful state since the commencement of the second civil war in 2014. Similarly, Oman reduced its military spending, contributing to a more peaceful environment. However, it is important to note that the region still faces serious security concerns, particularly related to terrorism.
The Global Peace Index highlights that nearly 80 countries experienced a decline in peacefulness in the past year. Ukraine witnessed the most substantial deterioration, primarily driven by the war with Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine not only impacted the region but also had far-reaching consequences on the global economy, resulting in a total cost of violence amounting to $17.5 trillion in 2022.
On a positive note, Afghanistan, despite its low ranking, witnessed significant improvements in peacefulness. The decrease in conflict led to a notable reduction of 91 percent in conflict-related deaths. Factors such as improved funding for UN peacekeeping efforts, reduced intensity of internal conflict, and enhancements in armed services personnel contributed to these positive developments.
While Iceland continues to lead the rankings, it faced challenges this year with an increase in murders and the first recorded instance of alleged terrorist activity in the country’s history. This serves as a reminder that even the most peaceful nations must remain vigilant in maintaining their harmonious environments.
Europe and Asia dominated the list of the most peaceful countries. Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Austria secured positions among the top five, showcasing their commitment to safety and security. Singapore, Portugal, Slovenia, Japan, and Switzerland rounded off the top ten, reflecting their peaceful environments and robust institutions.
However, certain regions experienced declines in peacefulness. The war in Ukraine significantly impacted political stability, relations with neighboring countries, and external conflicts in the broader region. Three European countries that share a border with Ukraine recorded substantial deteriorations in their peacefulness rankings.
Turkey emerged as the least peaceful country in Europe, citing high incarceration rates and deaths resulting from external conflicts. The country’s military involvement in Iraq and Syria, aimed at countering the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has further contributed to its ranking.
The Global Peace Index 2023 underscores the complex and varied nature of peace across the globe. While some nations continue to struggle with conflicts and instability, others have shown remarkable progress in maintaining peaceful societies. The path to enduring peace remains a collective endeavor requiring ongoing efforts and cooperation from nations worldwide.
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