The last seven years have seen a rapid deterioration in world peace and the cost of global violence was put at $1,350 per person, according to an index measuring world peace as several countries slid down the index into civil war and violence.
The economic cost of dealing with world violence stood at $9.8 trillion, or 11.3 percent of total global economic output — as much as the economies of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined, according to new research by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
The pattern reversed the 60-year trend in more peace after the end of World War II.
The index was measured gauging conflict, unrest, safety and security as well as militarization and defense spending.
“Given the deteriorating global situation we cannot be complacent about the institutional bedrocks for peace,” said Steve Killelea, the IEP’s executive chairman, Reuters reported.
“This is a wakeup call to governments, development agencies, investors and the wider international community that building peace is the prerequisite for economic development,” he added.
The decline in world peace is not being felt round the world evenly. While 51 countries had improved levels of peace since 2008, 111 had deteriorated.
Syria has pushed Afghanistan out of the No. 1 spot for the world’s least peaceful nation, as the bloody civil war continues there for a third year.
Iraq was ranked 159 out of 162 countries before the latest bloodshed unleashed by the ISIS Sunni militants.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, came 160 as it slides towards a full-blown tribal civil war just three years after its birth, which was itself a result of a lengthy conflict with northern neighbor Sudan.
Elsewhere in Africa, the Central African Republic saw a marked deterioration in peace, although Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been locked in violent internal conflict for a number of years, so their low peace rankings were not a surprise.
Perhaps a surprising country that has slid down the index is Russia, as the domestic political situation and relations with neighboring Ukraine begin to take their toll. Ukraine itself also became less peaceful.
Other countries that have seen a marked deterioration in peace were Libya and Egypt. In China, increased military spending saw it drop to 108th position.
The IEP predicts that things could get worse, with 500 million people living in countries at risk of becoming less peaceful.
Despite the crisis in Ukraine, Europe was still the most peaceful area of the world, with 14 of the 20 most peaceful countries.
The UK saw an improvement in peace levels over the past decade and saw the largest drop in total crime of all European countries. Although London has become safer, certain areas such as Hackney, Lewisham and Lambeth remain the most dangerous areas of the country.
Violent crime and homicide was about 10 times higher in the US than the UK, although overall the US has become more peaceful in the last 20 years.
Peace levels in the US varied markedly by state, with Louisiana the least peaceful state for the 20th year running and the South having the highest rates of homicide, incarceration and violent crime.
In contrast the most peaceful states such as Maine and Vermont had better economic opportunities and higher levels of educational attainment.
Iceland is still the most peaceful country on earth.
Reprinted with permission