Czech Republic named sixth most peaceful country

Annual Global Peace Index sees conditions worsening around the world

The Czech Republic was among 81 countries that improved their standing in the 10th annual Global Peace Index put out by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The Czech Republic rose to sixth place out of 183 countries. It had been at 10 out of 162 countries in 2015.

Iceland came in first place, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.

The rest of the Visegrad Group did not score as well. Neighboring Slovakia was 24th, Poland was 16th and Hungary was 19th.

“While 81 countries improved, the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains, meaning that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year. Despite this some of the most peaceful countries are now recording historically high levels of peace,” a news release from the Institute for Economics and Peace stated.

The index gauges on-going domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and the degree of militarization in 163 countries and territories by taking into account 23 indicators. The 2016 edition expands its coverage by including Palestine for the first time.

The Czech Republic scored well in all areas except security officers and police. The country was noted for its low homicide rate, lack of violent crime and lack of internal conflict. The difficult access to weapons, low military expenditure and good relations with neighboring countries were also positive factors.

Europe accounts for six of the top seven places in the rankings but the average score in Europe deteriorated. This reflects the increases in the impact of terrorism as well as the escalation of violence and instability in Turkey and the country’s deteriorating relations with its neighbors, according to the news release.

The largest improvement in Europe, however, was not the Czech Republic. Portugal rose nine places to fifth globally. “This reflects continuing improvements in the context of the country’s gradual return to political normality following its EU/IMF economic and financial adjustment process. Notwithstanding the difficulties faced by the left-of-center government elected in 2015, Portugal has recorded a second year of improvements across numerous dimensions, notably the likelihood of violent demonstrations, but also the Political Terror Scale and political instability,” the report stated.

The bottom of the chart was taken by Syria, followed by South Sudan in 162nd place and Iraq at 163rd.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the the Institute for Economics and Peace, said: “As internal conflicts in MENA (Middle East and Africa) become more entrenched, external parties are increasingly becoming more involved and the potential for indirect or ‘war by proxy’ between nation states is rising. This was already evident in Syria with the conflict between the Assad regime and multiple non-state actors, and is now spilling into countries such as Yemen. There is a broader proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more recently both US and Russia have increased their level of involvement.”

The world powers did not do very well. The United States only managed to reach 103rd place, while China was at 120th and Russia at 151st.

The report states that the global deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability. “While the majority of terrorist activity is highly concentrated in five countries -— Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan — the breadth of terrorism is spreading, with only 23 percent of countries in the Index not experiencing a terrorist incident.

Europe, which was once again the most peaceful region in the world, saw its average score deteriorate in this year’s report in the wake of terrorism incidents in Paris and Brussels, with deaths from terrorism in Europe having more than doubled over the last five years,” the IEP news release stated.

“The number of refugees and displaced persons has risen dramatically over the last decade, doubling to approximately 60 million people between 2007 and 2016, nearly 1 percent of the world’s population. There are now nine countries with more than 10 percent of their population displaced in some form; 20 percent of Somalia and South Sudan’s population respectively, and over 60 percent of Syria’s. While the global economic impact of violence dropped by 2 percent when compared to last year’s report, it was still a staggering $13.6 trillion in 2015, equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment. This represents 13.3 percent of world GDP, or $1,876 per person. In the last 10 years the economic impact of violence was $137 trillion; greater than global GDP in 2015,” the release said.

The same time, political terror increased globally, with Europe recording the second biggest deterioration worldwide, after Asia Pacific. Despite this, Europe is still the best placed region in the Political Terror Scale rankings, according to the report.

There were mixed successes for societal safety and security,across the different regions. Very few countries experienced a change in either perceptions of criminality or the level of violent crime and in both cases more countries improved than deteriorated, the report sates. The scores for the number of jailed population per 100,000 people also roughly canceled each other out between the countries that had higher incarceration rates last year and those that had lower.

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