Global Peace Index Series: #2 Trends

Posted in: #thisispeace, News, Nonviolence, Peacebuilding

The Institute for Economics and Peace annually produces the Global Peace Index (GPI), the world’s most extensive data-driven analysis of global peacefulness, its economic value, and how to develop more peaceful societies. The GPI measures and ranks the peacefulness of 163 states, looking at not only the presence or absence of war, but depicting the presence or absence of violence or fear of violence through three domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security, the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict, and the degree of Militarization. Analysis of the data reveals several interesting long and short term trends that should be highlighted.

The average level of global peacefulness has decreased for the fourth year in a row. Since 2017, 92 countries declined in peacefulness while 71 improved. This reflects a decade long decline in peacefulness, caused by a range of factors: increased terrorist activity, intensification of conflicts in the Middle East, the rise of regional tensions in Eastern Europe and northeast Asia, an increase in the number of displaced persons and refugees, and growing political tensions in the United States and Europe. In the past year, peacefulness deteriorated in all three of the domains that the GPI examines, however the biggest decline occurred in the domain of Ongoing Conflict. This again echoes a decade long pattern. Global scores for Ongoing Conflict have declined by 5.9% since 2008.

Ten-year Trends:
  • Since 2008, global peacefulness has deteriorated by 2.38% — 85 countries recorded a deterioration, while 75 improved — the biggest contributors of which were terrorism and internal conflict
  • Europe, which is and remains the world’s most peaceful region, has deteriorated 61% in peacefulness in the past decade
  • The gap between the most peaceful and least peaceful states has grown
  • Though militarization scores deteriorated in the past year, a look at longer-term data shows an improvement in the past decade
    • Military expenditure as a percentage of the GDP continued its downwards trend, with 102 states spending less on the military over the decade
    • The average number of armed service personnel per 100,000 people has fallen from 458 to 396 in the last decade
Hundred-year Trends:
  • Democracy has spread to new nations, reaching a 100-year high
  • Diplomatic relations have increased 600% and there are now 77 times more formal alliances than in 1918
  • The predominant form of armed conflict shifted from external conflict to internal conflict
  • More than ⅓ of armed conflicts are internationalized civil wars, civil wars in which international powers have become involved

Overall, the data depicts the latter half of the 20th century as less violent than the first. However, there has been a moderate but steady decline in global peacefulness in the last decade. It is difficult to conclude whether the data of the past ten years indicates a new long-term trend or simply a time of global adjustment struggles. One hopeful sign is that the measure of Positive Peace–the attitudes, institutions, and structures that sustain peaceful societies–are higher than they were a decade ago. Yet this too is inconclusive as these measures have declined over the past three years. We will dive more into the exploration of Positive Peace measures and their implications in a future blog.

WOVEN advocates for peace as part of a campaign to end violence in our lifetime. We refuse to accept violence as unavoidable and believe that resources like the GPI can help us solve the epidemic. Though the report of growing violent trends is worrying, gaining a better understanding of the current nature of violence on this planet helps us learn how to overcome it.

This was the second in a series of blogs on the GPI. We will continue to highlight key takeaways from the report in upcoming posts.

WOVEN will be attending the launch and presentation of the 2019 Global Peace Index this Thursday, June 13th at the Bard Globalizations & International Affairs Program.


Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Peace Index 2018: Measuring Peace in a Complex World, Sydney, June 2018.

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