Current State of Peacefulness Around the World: Key Insights from Global Peace Index 2020

How peaceful is our world? How has the coronavirus situation impacted global peace? Which countries are handling it well - which likely to struggle? Thomas Morgan, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Economics & Peace, addresses those and other questions, sharing latest insights from the Global Peace Index 2020.

Thomas, which findings of the Global Peace Index 2020 did you find the most intriguing?

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is now in its 14th year – and shows that global peacefulness has fallen and is set to worsen as the economic impact of COVID-19 takes a hold.

Civil unrest has doubled since 2011, with 96 countries recording a violent demonstration in 2019, as citizens protested a range of issues, from economic hardship and police brutality to political instability.

This reflects a longer-term trend, with riots around the world increasing by 282% in the last decade, while general strikes increased 821%. Europe has experienced the most protests, riots and strikes – however only 35% of the approximate 1,600 total were recorded as violent; the lowest percent in the world.

Although peacefulness has deteriorated in the last decade, de-militarisation is improving overall, and 100 countries have decreased their military expenditure since 2008.

The economic impact of violence in 2019 improved due to a lessening of the intensity of internal conflict; however, violence cost the global economy $14.5 trillion or 10.6% of global GDP.

Deaths from terrorism have fallen for the fourth consecutive year, down by 75%.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant impact on global peace. It will negatively affect political stability, international relations, conflict, civil rights and violence – undoing many years of socio-economic development.

As economic volatility increases, nations are expected to divide into those that stabilise or deteriorate in peace and prosperity – those dependent on aid or with high debts are particularly likely to suffer.

Italy, Greece, Latvia and Poland are among the countries least likely to weather COVID-19 well – this is due to economic challenges and poor performance on ‘social resilience’, while Norway, Australia and New Zealand are best placed to handle the future.

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