2009, Global Peace Index
After doing a write up about the 2008 Global Peace Index (GPI), Steve Killelea‘s team contacted me to see if I wanted to have a chat with him regarding the 2009 GPI results. (Steve is the brainchild behind the GPI study). So at 3.30pm London time and 12.30am here in Port Moresby, I was on the phone to Steve with my questions.
The major approach employed through the 2009 study was the issue of how to measure Peace. Everyone can measure the ‘Defense Industry’, which was stated by Steve to represent some 4.4% of the Global Economy, but what was the cost for a lack of Peace?
The GPI website estimated, “…the impact of lost peace on the world economy at 7.2 trillion dollars (US$7,200,000,000,000) annually. Over a ten year period this adds up to US$72 trillion (4). This figure is comprised of US$2.4 trillion annually that would move from industries that create or manage violence to other economic activities and US$4.8 trillion from additional economic activity that had been suppressed through violence…”
So the idea being that if we can recognise how financially important Peace is and if we can measure it, then we should be able to incorporate it into our economies and businesses. War should then begin to appear as an increasingly expensive and futile option for any country and its people. I even asked Steve what should come first, ‘the peace or the economic stability’ and he answered that in the studies that they had been conducting there were strong indicators that Peace in general was the leading attribute in beginning the cycle of Peace leading into Economic Stability and then promoting more Peace and so on.
Studying Peace as an industry for one reason or another is a totally new concept for the world, as their website stated:
“Only through the study and the understanding of peace can we achieve peace. Yet in the academic world the study of peace has not reached far beyond the borders of ‘Peace and Conflict’ studies. Peace is not a subject of study that is considered essential in Economics, History, Literature, Political Sciences or International Relations. One discipline that would substantially benefit from the study of peace is Business and Economics”.
“Once conclusions about the economic benefits of peace are drawn, it may be possible to transform the world through business-led initiatives, thereby helping to achieve peace and creating the environment that will make future sustainability possible”.
What about PNG then? Well looks like we’re moving up in the world. From last year we’ve gone from 95th place to 93rd place. It’s not a huge leap, but its something. New Zealand went from 4th place to number One and the US, who were behind us in 2008, have shot right past us to go from 97 to 83. I asked Steve how this could have happened and he said that it was due to several factors like a decrease in reported terrorist attacks on the US and a slight improvement in political stability. I interpreted political stability to possibly be Obama’s influence in his goal to better relationships with other countries. But Steve cautioned that the US would still need to be watched as it was still quite early on in the new regime.
So if PNG is generally getting more peaceful in regards to broad country wide social indicators, then what about domestically in our homes? Riane Eisler, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, asked why violence against women and children was not included as a specific indicator for the GPI. Steve answered this by explaining that unfortunately they did not have enough reported cases to build a better picture of how domestic violence effected the GPI. For example among their research they saw that Canada among other developed countries had high instances of reported cases involving Domestic violence. But that was related more to a culture where people reported such matters as opposed to other countries which did not report such matters. I’d say that PNG would perhaps fall into this latter category where we do not report more than half the domestic violence incidents that occur year in year out. I do however think that we would have information on domestic violence which we can pass on to Steve.
Attitude is Everything
One aspect of the studies, which I found interesting was the research conducted on a country’s ‘attitude’ and its relationship with its GPI ranking. Over the years, many mentions have been made in the PNG media about our ‘Attitude’ problem and how it needed to be improved. So this research into a country’s attitudes seemed quite appropriate for us.
In trying to understand what nurtures and sustains peace, the GPI studied several cultural mechanisms. The main ones are listed below with their findings in relation to appropriate attitudes:
- Nationalism/Chauvinism: More Peaceful countries tended to be; less likely to think their culture was superior, more likely to see their country as having average morality in its foreign policy and less likely to think that their way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence.
- Active Civil Society/Respect for Human Rights: More Peaceful countries tended to be; more likely to reject any use of torture, including against terrorists, more likely to support leaders who take a cooperative and compromising approach, more likely to say that the media in their country have a lot of freedom, more likely to believe that women and men make equally good political leaders, less likely to believe that the their government should be able to limit expression of ideas, more likely to see their country as having a lot of respect for human rights.
- Support for Military Capacity and the Use of Force: More Peaceful countries tended to be; more likely to favor an agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons, more likely to have negative feelings about al Qaeda, were likely to support military action in Iraq only if sanctioned by UN (Gallup International), more likely to disagree with the need to use military force to maintain order in the world.
- Traditional Personal and Religious Values: More Peaceful countries tended to be; more likely to feel that politicians do not need to believe in God, more likely to believe that good and evil are more contingent rather than absolute, more likely to feel that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral.
- Economic Attitudes: More Peaceful countries tended to be; more likely to say that anyone should be permitted to come to work in the country, less likely to say that globalization is growing too quickly (BBC).
- What Citizens Think of Other Nations: A striking finding for peacefulness is that the rankings of countries by the GPI and by the global public in terms of positive-negative influence correlate very strongly, more strongly than any of the other items tested. It seems that peacefulness is an important part of the underlying concept that people around the world employ when they say that a country is having a positive or negative influence in the world.
The above attitude indicators are great benchmarks for PNG and my personal favourite is that more peaceful countries are more likely to feel that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral. That would be one for the politicians who like to call Gods name in vain during election time. But on a serious note, attitude goes a long way regardless of whether you’re rich or poor, educated or not.
Money and Peace
In the South Pacific PNG is the only country included on the GPI. Steve stated that this was because there was not enough data collected from the other South Pacific countries and also because the countries were fairly small. More countries are being added to the GPI list though. When they started in 2007, they listed 121 countries. In 2009, they’ve listed 144 countries. Only Hong Kong had to be dropped because it now comes under China. The study’s main focus is on the 197 members of the UN, so the study currently covers 98% of the world. I imagine that the other countries will be listed as statistics in the respective countries improve over time and the GPI’s methods of gathering this information from the respective countries improves as well.
The Study of Peace and what Steve and his team are doing is very new and so everything they are putting up in their research is basically a collection of various studies correlating to each other to show trends towards more peaceful nations. The studies are not 100% solid as yet, but money seems to talk in this world and you only have to see how much attention carbon credits are getting on the global markets to see that the most effective way to build and support a purported ‘Peace Industry’ will be to make it economically tangible.