Why the world is becoming less peaceful

Steve Killelea

Is the world becoming a more violent place?

The world has certainly become a more peaceful place in the last 60 years, but short-term trends show a worrying increase in violence. On our measure, 111 countries’ peace levels decreased over the last seven years, while 51 improved. The eleven least-peaceful countries (including Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan) deteriorated faster than the average country. Between 2002 and 2013, deaths from terrorism rose 500 per cent, with the number of countries experiencing deaths from terrorism increasing from 38 to 58. Direct conflict between states is less common, but violence within them is rising. Homicide, violent crime, political instability, and total weapons imports and exports have all increased. Peace is more than just the absence of war. Looking at the data across all types of violence, including state violence and the fear of violence, a trend emerges: in the short term, the world is becoming less peaceful.

Steve Killelea is founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, whose Global Peace Index 2014 was released yesterday.

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