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The Global Peace Index and ASEAN

Newly released research by the Economist Intelligence Unit and a worldwide team of academics indicate the level of peacefulness in 121 countries around the world. Within the ASEAN region, Singapore was ranked highest at 29th, Vietnam 35th and Malaysia 37th. There is something of a gap to Indonesia at 78th, Cambodia 85th, the Philippines 100th, Thailand 105th and Myanmar 108th. The very least peaceful countries in the world were Israel, Sudan and Iraq. Data were not available for Brunei and Laos. Rankings were calculated on the basis of a range of data indicators, including the number of people imprisoned, likelihood of terrorist attacks, number of demonstrations, government military capacity and so forth.

The most peaceful country in the world is Norway, while Britain is 49th and the USA 96th. Ireland, which was ravaged by violence throughout most of the twentieth century, has now become the fourth most peaceful country in the world, which offers hope for other states facing internal and external violence.

The main lessons to be drawn from the research, according to the authors, are:
• Small, stable countries which are part of regional blocs such as the European Union are most likely to get a higher ranking
• Internal peace is correlated for indicators such as income, schooling and the level of regional integration
• There is no single common factor which makes countries score poorly for external peace

To increase peacefulness, therefore, ASEAN nations should strengthen their integration within the Association and through other regional forums and concentrate on economic and social development. However, there will be some circumstances which make external violence a continuing threat no matter what a government may try. The fighting in Myanmar between the central military government and various rebel ethnic minority groups, for example, will bring threats to stability to its neighbours such as Thailand on a regular basis. The previous democratic government of Thaksin Shinawatra approached the issue by trying to involve the Myanmarese generals in joint projects for economic development, while the Chinese and Indian governments are also strongly involved in investing in the country in various ways so as to promote stability – people will have more to lose if they have jobs and wealth which depends on keeping the peace. Even so, it is interesting to note that Cambodia and Vietnam are now rated as being more peaceful countries that the USA.

The research was inspired by Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Steve Killelea and is supported by leading global figures such as the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter. According to the Dalai Lama, “Compiling and maintaining an Index of which countries are the most peaceful and publishing the results, will undoubtedly make the factors and qualities that contribute to that status better known and will encourage people to foster them in their own countries.”

The research required more than one and a half years of work days involving hundreds of academics and reporters around the world. A range of 24 indicators was created to identify the peacefulness construct and nearly 7000 data points collected. More details about the research are available at:

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