Political fallout amid the shock election of US President Donald Trump last year caused North America to became less peaceful, an influential study has found.
While the world became a safer place to live overall, the 2017 Global Peace Index found disruption caused by the perception of corruption and attacks on media in the US led to its deterioration.
The US ranked 114th on this year’s Index, a fall of 11 places since 2016.
The Index is published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think tank and aims to analyse global conflict, safety and security.
Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the IEP, told HuffPost that the US’s fall isn’t solely the fault of Trump.
“There was an increase in perceptions of criminality, an uptick in the homicide rate, and an increase in internal conflict,” he said. “The increase in internal conflict was due to increased hostility within the political system... This reflects the intractable rhetoric from both sides of the political divide which was apparent during the most recent presidential election campaign.”
It follows years of decline in the indicators the IEP uses to gauge peacefulness.
“From 2005 to 2015 the United States had the fourth largest proportional decrease in positive peace,” Killelea added. “This was due to decreases in the domains measuring Free Flow of Information, Acceptance of the Rights of Others and Equitable Distribution of Resources.”
The Index also found:
- OECD countries have collectively experienced a 900% increase in terrorism between 2007 and 2016
- Ethiopia declined most in the survey, after rising ethnic tensions and widespread violence stemming from public protest sparked a six-month state of emergency
- Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region experienced improvements in their overall scores, with New Zealand, Japan and Australia amongst the most peaceful globally
- The Philippines and North Korea remained among the least peaceful nations
Meanwhile the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan meant the country increased its relative peacefulness, climbing six places to joint 41st.
“This improvement was driven by the reduction in external conflicts as the withdrawal from Afghanistan is fully accounted for, as well as a slight reduction in the homicide and incarceration rates,” Killelea said.
Yet the impact of terrorism stemmed the UK’s increase in peace. The Index was compiled after the Westminster attack in March, but before last week’s bombing in Manchester.
“There were two indicators that deteriorated: an increase in weapons exports and the impact of terrorism. The impact of terrorism measure is up until 31 March 2017 and includes the 22 March 2017 attack in Westminster,” Killelea added. “The attack in Manchester has not been reflected in this year’s Global Peace Index, but is likely to have a significant impact on how the UK performs next year.”
Read the full report here.