KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Malaysia ranked 28 in the latest Global Peace Index (GPI), behind Singapore at 24, but ahead of other countries in the region.
In the 9th edition of the GPI, which ranks countries according to their level of peacefulness, Iceland took the top spot while Syria was at the bottom in the survey of 162 countries.
Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific rankings, New Zealand was ranked first, followed by Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia at the 5th. North Korea took the lowest ranking at the 19th spot.
According to the report by the international Institute for Economics and Peace think tank, the index gauges global peace according to the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation.
“Over the past eight years the average country score deteriorated 2.4 per cent, highlighting that on average the world has become slightly less peaceful.
“However, this decrease in peacefulness has not been evenly spread, with 86 counties deteriorating while 76 improved,” the report said.
Middle East and North Africa countries suffered the largest decline of any region in the world, deteriorating 11 per cent over the past eight years while the eight-year downward trend in peacefulness has been driven predominantly by the deterioration in indicators of internal peacefulness, it added.
“The latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates indicate that more than 50 million people are now either refugees or internally displaced because of conflict and violence, which is the highest number since the end of the Second World War.
“A third of people displaced by conflict inside their own countries in 2014 are in Iraq and Syria alone,” the report said.
It also noted that terrorism has grown steadily over the last decade, a trend that shows “no sign of abating”.
Deaths caused by terrorism increased by 61 per cent in 2013, which resulted in almost 18,000 people being killed in terrorist attacks, the report said.
Of those deaths, 82 per cent occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
The threat of terrorism has also affected many of the world’s most peaceful countries, with terrorist attacks occurring in France, Denmark and Australia in the last year, it noted.
“It is important to note that peace is becoming more unevenly distributed.
“While Europe continued its long-term trend of improvement, the Middle East continued its recent trend of deterioration, further increasing the distance between the most and least peaceful regions and countries.
“In Europe and in many other developed countries, homicide rates and other forms of interpersonal violence continue to drop and are at historic lows,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the economic impact of violence on the global economy last year was “substantial” and is estimated at US$14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for internally displaced person and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for 38 per cent of the increase since 2008.
“The major expenditure categories are military spending at 43 per cent, homicide and violent crime at 27 per cent and internal security officers, including police, at 18 per cent.
“While the cost of UN peacekeeping has more than doubled since 2008, it still only accounts for less than 0.17 per cent of violence containment expenditure,” it said.