The Global Peace Index 2019 (GPI), an annual report produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, is as illuminating and exhaustive as its readers have come to expect, but this year it also covers an entirely new set of findings: positive peace. By measuring “the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies” the reports authors make the argument that peace is not merely an absence of conflict, but rather the actions consistently taken to create a peaceful society. This discussion is especially important as civil society, one of the key players in the positive peacebuilding process, is under increasing attack from governments around the world.
Easily the most exciting (and perhaps unexpected) statistic in the GPI is that global peacefulness improved for the first time in five years. “The average country score improved by 0.09 per cent, with 86 countries improving, and 76 recording deteriorations.” Some notable movements on the index itself include:
- the United States moving to the world’s 128th most peaceful country (out of 163), down four spots from last year’s GPI;
- Brazil moving to the world’s 116th, down ten spots;
- Nicaragua becoming the world’s 120th, down 54 spots;
- Afghanistan moving to the world’s least peaceful country, down one spot.
The report states “Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world” but “the broader political environment remains uncertain, and resurgent nationalism and terrorism remain significant threats to peace.” This outlook could characterize the entire GPI: any improvements are tempered by rising authoritarianism, increased terrorist activity and climate change, which will exacerbate every preexisting conflict and tension.