Global Peace Index, 2008

By Emmanuel Narokobi

In May 2007, the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur, Steve Killelea was born. Steve’s baby, the Global Peace Index (GPI), is an attempt to measure the relative position of a nations’ and regions’ peacefulness. It is maintained by the Institute for Economics and Peace and developed in consultation with an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks, together with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, Australia with data analysed by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

So everyone loves lists and in 2008 the top 10 most peaceful countries on the planet were:

  1. Iceland
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. New Zealand
  5. Japan
  6. Ireland
  7. Portugal
  8. Finland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Austria

and the most unpeaceful nations were:

  • 131. Russia
  • 132. Lebanon
  • 133. North Korea
  • 134. Central African Republic
  • 135. Chad
  • 136. Israel
  • 137. Afghanistan
  • 138. Sudan
  • 139. Somalia
  • 140. Iraq

Our buddies from Australia came in 27th just under Bhutan and just above Italy and our Malaysians came in at number 38. But as always, PNG had a very interesting peace ranking. We came in at 95, just under Belarus and just above Jamaica. In fact we are 2 places ahead of the United States of America which is at 97.

So how is all this measuring done, well the GPI uses 24 indicators to rank nations according to their relative internal and external peacefulness. They include their: 

  • military expenditures as a percent of GDP and number of armed service personnel per 100,000 population; 
  • relations with other countries; 
  • respect for human rights; 
  • potential for terrorist acts; 
  • number of homicides per 100,000 population, including infanticide; 
  • level of violent crime; 
  • aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000 population and ease of access to small arms and light weapons; 
  • number of jailed population per 100,000 population; and 
  • number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population.

Some critisim has been levelled aginst the GPI, like the one from the The Economist, when publishing the index, admitted that, “the index will run into some flak.” Specifically, according to The Economist, the weighting of military expenditure “may seem to give heart to freeloaders: countries that enjoy peace precisely because others (often the USA) care for their defense.” The true utility of the index may lie not in its specific rankings of countries now, but in how those rankings change over time, thus tracking when and how countries become more or less peaceful. (See also comments from

The GPI has also been criticised for not including indicators specifically relating to violence against women and children. Riane Eisler, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, argued that, “to put it mildly, this blind spot makes the index very inaccurate.” She mentions a number of specific cases, including Egypt, where she claims 90% of women are subject to genital mutilation, China, where, she says, “female infanticide is still a problem,” and Chile, where 26% of women “suffered at least one episode of violence by a partner, according to a 2000 UNICEF study.”

In its defence though Steve Killelea, has been said to have created a definition for the Peace Industry, and argued that the Index “is a wake-up call for leaders around the globe.”

If anything though the GPI does serve as a useful guide and standard by which Global Peace can progress. As always with these types of lists, they aren’t always accurate but I hope PNG does deserve its spot. You can see our statistics in detail here.

5 thoughts on “Global Peace Index, 2008

  1. Manu

    here is another kind of map you might be interested done by the New Economic Forum on a research they compiled n call the Happy Planet Index. PNG does not fair badly, it is equal to Aust and Better then America.

    here is the link to the map:
    (not to sure how to copy that image to here.)

    remember: “high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being (life-satisfaction)”
    and “every country has its problems and no country performs as well as it could.”



  2. Dear Emmanuel

    Just to introduce myself, my name’s Ellie Kirby and I’m writing on behalf of the Global Peace Index (GPI).

    First of all we would like to sincerely thank you for previously including the GPI in your blog in the past – your succinct explanation and breakdown of the Globlal Peace Index is fantastic, and creates an approachable means for others to access the project.

    As you’ll be aware, the GPI is a ground-breaking piece of research in the study of peace, which not only ranks nations by their peacefulness but also seeks to identify the drivers of peace. Now in its fourth year, the Index is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank dedicated to the research and education of the relationship between economic development, business and peace. It is collated and calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

    We’re getting in touch to alert you to the fact that the next Global Peace Index will be launched on June 8th 2010. We’ll be providing you with further information closer to the time – unless you tell us that you’d rather not hear from us again – but thought you might appreciate the heads-up in the meantime.

    You might want to join us on Facebook too:!/pages/Global-Peace-Index/92288319748?ref=ts,

    And follow us on Twitter:

    If you’ve got any thoughts or questions about the Index, our methodology, or our organisation, please get in touch. We hope you find our research interesting and informative, and look forward to sharing this year’s findings with you in a few weeks’ time.

    Best wishes,

    Ellie Kirby

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