ČR Scores High on Peace Index
Study puts annual cost of conflicts to global economy at $8 trillion
The Czech Republic is one of the world’s most peaceful countries, according to a worldwide study by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) known as the Global Peace Index (GPI).
The country rose from 12th last year to fifth place in this year’s fifth annual list, with only Iceland, New Zealand, Japan and Denmark considered more peaceful.
The Czech Republic was also ranked first in the list of countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The IEP said the key factor in the Czech Republic’s improved score was a decrease in the likelihood of violent demonstrations.
This finding is corroborated by the government’s latest annual report on extremism, which found the threat of extremist violence has tapered off, thanks to a combination of police intervention, the dissolution of the ultra-nationalist Workers Party and the tough sentencing in the Vítkov arson trial.
Changes stemming from European Union membership were also credited in part for the Czech Republic’s improved showing, with fellow CEE state Slovenia rising to 10th place on the list.
Overall, the increased threat of terrorism was found to be the most significant single influence on the index, organizers said, with 29 nations seeing a rise in their terror threat level, including various African, Middle Eastern and European nations.
The likelihood for violent demonstrations also increased in 33 states.
“Despite a decade-long war on terrorism, the potential for terrorist acts has increased this year, offsetting small gains made in prior years,” said Steve Killelea, chairman and founder of the nonprofit research institute that compiled the GPI.
The IEP study found the world has become less peaceful for the third year in a row, with global conflict costing the world economy $8.12 trillion in the past year alone.
Unrest in North Africa prompted the largest shifts in individual states’ rankings, with Libya seeing the biggest-ever fall in a single year of 83 places to 143. Bahrain and Egypt also saw significant falls of 51 and 24 places to 123 and 73 respectively.
“The fall in this year’s index is strongly tied to conflict between citizens and their governments; nations need to look at new ways of creating stability other than through military force,” Killelea said.
Unrest caused by economic instability also led to falls in levels of peacefulness in the so-called PIGS nations of Greece (65), Italy (45), Spain (28), Portugal (17) and Ireland (11). Western Europe and Scandinavia nonetheless remained the world’s most peaceful regions, with the majority of these states in the top 20.
Somalia displaced Iraq at the bottom of the list, where the war-torn Middle Eastern state had been since the list began four years ago.
Sub-Saharan Africa generally remains the region least at peace, making up 40 percent of the world’s least peaceful countries.
The index uses 23 separate indicators to gauge ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society and militarization in 153 countries.
Killelea said in a statement that the research had identified within the 23 indicators a subset of “eight social attitudes and structures required to create peaceful, resilient and socially sustainable societies.”
These are a well-functioning government, a sound business environment, equality of resources, acceptance of rights, good relations with neighbors, freedom of information, good education and low levels of corruption.
Bill Lehane can be reached at
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