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Asian Countries Place Poorly in Peace Rankings

The first-ever and relatively controversial Global Peace Index was released at the end of May. The Peace Index is a ranking of 121 countries based on 24 "global peace indicators," which include: number of wars fought, level of distrust for other citizens, respect for human rights, level of violent crime, and access to small weapons.1 This combination of indicators aims to convey a broader picture of peace, notoriously difficult to capture, not just the absence of violence. The organization wants to add to the discussion surrounding peace and conflict by looking into the potential determinants of peace.

Most countries in Asia are ranked "very low" or "low" on the Index, except for a few outliers like Japan and Bhutan, ranked 5 and 18 respectively. This might come as a surprise to those who consider peace to be directly related to development and growth, because at least within Asia, economic growth does not necessarily indicate a lack of violence. Thailand, for example, has seen notable economic growth in the last ten years but ranks low on the list - 105 of 121, in part because of the ongoing violence in south and the political unrest throughout the whole country.

As Kofi Annan famously said, "We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights. Unless all these causes are advanced, none will succeed."2 This brings up a broader chicken-or-egg question about development and conflict. Is peace a prerequisite for development? Or is it the other way around? Researchers of conflict include freedom, human rights and justice as determinants of peace, and undoubtedly human rights organizations in Asia can appreciate how necessary these prerequisites are.3

So which Asian countries fared the worst in the rankings? Bringing up the bottom of the list is Pakistan, at 115, only 6 places above Iraq. Other surprises were Sri Lanka, at 111, the second-to-lowest in Asia, and Thailand, at 105, trailing countries like Papua New Guinea at 88 and Uganda at 104 - which has been embroiled in two decades of internal conflict. What does this mean for countries like Thailand that previously considered themselves to be examples for the region? Perhaps it will be a wake-up call. Sri Lanka's low peace rating is also an interesting case given its higher relative ranking (as compared to its GDP) in other indexes, such as the Human Development Index, which puts more emphasis on education, access to health care, and literacy rates. So clearly peace and development are not inseparable.

Other rankings of interest outside of Asia include the US at 96, and Russia at 118. Norway and New Zealand claimed the number 1 and number 2 spots. Also notable is the separate inclusion of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.

To visit the Global Peace Index home page, please click here.

Global Peace Index: Rank of Asian Countries


Country

Score

1

Norway

1.357

2

New Zealand

1.363

3

Denmark

1.377

4

Ireland

1.396

5

Japan

1.413




19

Bhutan

1.611

23

Hong Kong

1.657

29

Singapore

1.692

32

South Korea

1.719

35

Vietnam

1.729

36

Taiwan

1.731

37

Malaysia

1.744

60

China

1.980

78

Indonesia

2.111

85

Cambodia

2.197

86

Bangladesh

2.219

100

Philippines

2.428

105

Thailand

2.491

108

Myanmar

2.524

109

India

2.530

111

Sri Lanka

2.575

115

Pakistan

2.697




117

Nigeria

2.898

118

Russia

2.903

119

Israel

3.033

120

Sudan

3.182

121

Iraq

3.437

1 Global Peace Index: http://www.visionofhumanity.com/rankings/

2 (In Larger Freedom, A/59/2005, para 17)

3 Vision of Humanity Introduction, http://www.visionofhumanity.com/introduction/index.php