By Staff writer
Annual Global Peace Index estimates the global impact of violence to have cost more than $14trn
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been named among the least peaceful countries in the world in the annual Global Peace Index (GPI).
Out of 163 countries covered by the index, Saudi Arabia was ranked 129th and Bahrain 132nd.
Syria ranked the least peaceful country for the fifth consecutive year while Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen completed the bottom five.
Qatar was ranked 35th globally, making it the most peaceful country in the Gulf, followed by Kuwait (51), the UAE (65) and Oman (74).
The world became a more peaceful place in 2017, according to figures released in the GPI, with 93 countries recording higher levels of peace while 68 deteriorated compared to last year.
The improvement was mainly driven by lower levels of state-sponsored terror – extra-judicial killings and torture - and the prior withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan by all but four of the 50 countries that provided military assistance.
The 11th edition of the index, published by international think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), captures the impact of political polarisation in the US stemming from the divisive 2016 Presidential Elections.
Despite improvements in Canada, the growing intensity of internal conflict, increases in terrorism and higher perceptions of criminality saw the US fall 11 places to 114th, resulting in North America recording the largest drop of any region.
Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the IEP, said: “While the true extent of the significant political polarity in the US will take years to be fully realised, its disruptive influence is already evident. Underlying conditions of increasing inequality, rising perceptions of corruption, and declining falling press freedoms have all contributed to this deterioration in the US, leading to the overall decline in peace in the North America region.”
The report said that despite the global number of deaths from terrorism decreasing by 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, the number of countries witnessing historically high levels of terrorism hit an all-time high in this year’s report at 23.
The IEP estimates the global impact of violence to have been 12.6 percent of world GDP in 2016 or $14.3 trillion.
Iceland maintained its position as the world’s most peaceful country, a title it has held onto since 2008, while New Zealand and Portugal replaced Denmark and Austria in second and third position.
Killelea added: “Although this year’s uptick is reassuring, the world is still mired with conflict in the Middle East, political turmoil in the US, refugee flows and terrorism in Europe. When combined with the increasing level of peace inequality, whereby the least peaceful countries are moving further apart from the most peaceful, the resulting scenario is one in which further improvements in peace are not guaranteed.”