Country for PR: United Kingdom
Contributor: PR Newswire Europe
Thursday, June 17 2021 - 15:00
World less peaceful as civil unrest and political instability increases due to COVID-19 pandemic, reveals IEP
LONDON, June 17, 2021, /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/--

Today marks the launch of the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index from the 
international think-tank the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) 
[ ].

Key results
 - Civil unrest rose globally by 10%, with Belarus recording the largest 
deterioration. There were 14,871 violent demonstrations, protests and riots 
recorded globally in 2020. 
 - Over 60% of people globally are worried about sustaining serious harm from 
violent crime. 
 - Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, and Afghanistan the 
least peaceful. 
 - Although there has been an improvement in militarisation since 2008, there 
are now signs that this trend has reversed. 
 - The economic impact of violence increased in 2020 to $14.96 trillion - 
equivalent to 11.6% of the world's GDP or $1,942 per person - due to increased 
military spending. 
 - The death toll from terrorism has declined for the sixth consecutive year.
COVID-19 highlights

 - In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a noticeable impact on violence, with 
some improvements, such as violent conflict, while other indicators 
deteriorated significantly including violent demonstrations. Three times as 
many countries deteriorated than improved. 
 - Political instability also increased with twice as many countries 
deteriorating than improving. 
 - There were widespread protests against pandemic related measures with over 
5,000 events recorded globally. 
 - Countries such as India, Chile, Italy, France, Germany, and South Africa 
were particularly impacted by demonstrations. 
 - The Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, 
Norway, Singapore, Slovenia, and Switzerland are best placed for a 
post-COVID-19 recovery.

The 15th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI) report, the world's 
leading measure of global peacefulness, reveals that the average level of 
global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth time in twelve years in 2020. 
Overall, 87 countries improved in peacefulness, whilst 73 deteriorated. This 
was the second smallest in the history of the index but the report also reveals 
that improvements in peace are more gradual than declines. As much of the world 
looks towards a COVID-19 recovery, increased civil unrest and political 
instability will be important to navigate. 

Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held 
since 2008. It is joined at the top of the index by New Zealand, Denmark, 
Portugal, and Slovenia. Afghanistan remains as the least peaceful country in 
the world for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Yemen, Syria, South 
Sudan, and Iraq. Eight of the ten countries at the top of the GPI are located 
in Europe. This is the largest share of European countries to be ranked in the 
top ten list in the history of the index. 

The largest improvement in peacefulness occurred in the Middle East and North 
Africa (MENA) region, which recorded significant reductions in conflict; 
however, it is still the least peaceful region in the world. Iraq recorded the 
second largest improvement globally after Ukraine. Burkina Faso experienced the 
biggest deterioration of any country in the world, falling 13 places. 

The indicators that had the largest deteriorations in the 2021 GPI were: 
military expenditure (105 countries), weapons imports (90 countries), political 
instability (46 countries) and violent demonstrations (25 countries). The 
following indicators had the most improvements: terrorism (115 countries), 
internal conflicts fought (21 countries) and deaths from internal conflict (33 

Steve Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman of IEP said: "The COVID-19 
pandemic has accelerated shifts in global peacefulness. Although there was a 
fall in the level of conflict and terrorism in 2020, political instability and 
violent demonstrations have increased. The economic fallout from the pandemic 
will create further uncertainty, especially for countries that were struggling 
prior to the pandemic." 

Civil unrest & COVID-19 

Fuelled by the pandemic the key negative trend this year is the global rise in 
civil unrest. 

The largest regional deterioration in peacefulness occurred in North America, 
due to the increased levels of political instability, homicides, and violent 
demonstrations. Events such as the storming of the Capitol building and 
widespread protests across the United States in support of the Black Lives 
Matter movement increased civil unrest, political instability and the intensity 
of internal conflict in 2020.

As much of the world went into lockdown, the total level of political and civil 
unrest rose. Between January 2020 and April 2021, over 5,000 pandemic-related 
violent events were recorded, and 25 countries deteriorated in the violent 
demonstrations indicator – in comparison to just eight that improved. The 
violent demonstrations score is now the highest since the inception of the 
index, with the largest deteriorations occurring in Belarus, Myanmar, Russia, 
the United States, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

During the pandemic, countries with higher levels of peacefulness had more 
resilient economies. High Peace* countries recorded reductions of less than 7% 
in total hours worked, while low Peace countries recorded up to 23% according 
to IEP's Business & Peace Report 2021 

The full post-pandemic recovery will not be quick or easy. It is also likely to 
be uneven, and countries with weak fiscal situations will find it harder than 
others. Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Laos are amongst the countries 
considered to have the greatest risk of large falls in peacefulness. 
Although Europe experienced a number of protest events last year, the region 
remains the most peaceful in the world; however, political instability rose 
across the continent, along with key indicators of Militarisation, including 
military expenditure, weapons imports, and nuclear and heavy weapons 

Militarisation and terrorism

Global militarisation has increased over the past two years with more countries 
increasing military expenditure and their armed services personnel rate. This 
is a reversal of the trend of the prior decade where 105 countries had 
improved, while 57 deteriorated. The US, China, Germany and South Korea had the 
largest increases in military expenditure in the last two years.
The death toll for terrorism continues to decline, with total deaths from 
terrorism falling for the last six consecutive years. Preliminary data for 2020 
suggests that less than 10,000 deaths were caused by terrorism.

Despite the total number of conflict-related deaths falling since 2014, the 
number of conflicts globally increased by 88% since 2010. However, new 
conflicts are emerging in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa with sub-Saharan 
Africa accounting for over 65% of total violent conflicts in the 2021 GPI. 
Preliminary data suggests that this trend is likely to continue. 

Overall, the economic impact of violence in 2020 rose slightly to $14.96 
trillion - or 11.6% of global GDP - due to an increase in global military 
expenditure, which rose by 3.7%. This is equivalent to $1,942 for every person 
on the planet.

Thomas Morgan, Associate Director of Research, says: "Violence is a very real 
and significant threat to many people around the world. Over 60% of people 
globally are worried about being the victim of violent crime. However, despite 
the high fear of violence most people feel the world is getting safer. Nearly 
75% of people globally felt that the world was as safe or safer than 5 years 

Violence and safety 

Violence remains a pressing issue for many people globally and is cited as the 
biggest risk to daily safety in almost a third of countries. Over half of the 
population in Afghanistan, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and Dominican Republic 
reported violence as the greatest risk to their safety in their daily lives. 
Despite this, some indicators of violence have recorded significant 
improvements since the start of the index, including perceptions of criminality 
which has improved in 86 countries. 123 countries have seen their homicide rate 
fall since 2008 and people from 84 countries have stated they feel safer 
walking alone. Even with these improvements, data has revealed that women are 
5% more fearful of violence than men** – while some countries have extreme 
differences. In Portugal 23% of women are more fearful of violence than men.

Regional overview:

 - The Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) remained the world's least 
peaceful region, but recorded the biggest improvement. 
 - In Sub-Saharan Africa, half of the population have had a recent experience 
of violence. Those living in Namibia had the highest experience of violence in 
the world at 63%. 
 - Over 50% of people in the Asia-Pacific region feel safer now than five years 
ago. In China, 63% of people said that they felt safer, which is the best 
result in the region. 
 - Europe recorded an improvement in peacefulness on the 2021 GPI, because of 
the continued improvement of the terrorism impact indicator. 
 - North America had the largest deterioration on the index fuelled by 
political instability in the US. 
 - For the first time in five years, peacefulness deteriorated in Russia and 
Eurasia due to an increase in violent demonstrations. 
 - South America experienced the second largest regional deterioration, owing 
to increases in violent crime and civil unrest. 
 - Due to improvements in the Militarisation and Safety and Security domain, 
South Asia was one of only three regions to record an improvement in 
peacefulness over the last year. 
 - In Central America and the Caribbean, nine countries deteriorated, with only 
Nicaragua, Haiti, and Guatemala recording improvements.
For more information and to download the Global Peace Index 2021 and also the 
Business & Peace Report 2021, visit and 


*High Peace is the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and 
sustain peaceful societies, also known as Positive Peace.  
** Data from the Lloyds Register World Risk Poll/IEP

The GPI report, articles and interactive maps are available at:

Twitter: @globpeaceindex / 
Facebook: @globalpeaceindex

About the Global Peace Index (GPI)

Produced by the international think-tank the Institute for Economics & Peace 
(IEP) [ ], the GPI report presents the most 
comprehensive data-driven analysis to date on peace, its economic value, 
trends, and how to develop peaceful societies. The report covers 99.7% of the 
world's population and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from 
highly respected sources to compile the index. These indicators are grouped 
into three key domains: Ongoing Conflict, Safety and Security, and 

Logo - 

SOURCE: Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP)