The coronavirus pandemic has caused a global rise in civil unrest and political insecurity, according to the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index (IWP) released on Thursday.
The GPI, an annual report prepared by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), classifies 163 independent states and territories according to their level of tranquility and is the world’s leading measure of world peace.
“This year’s results show that the average level of world peace deteriorated by 0.07 per cent,” the report said, noting that this was “the ninth deterioration of peace in the last thirteen years.
“However, the change in score is the second smallest in the history of the index,” he added.
According to the 2021 GPI, as global conflicts and crises that arose in the past decade diminished, they were replaced “by a new wave of tension and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing tensions among many of the major powers “.
In 2020, the world witnessed nearly 15,000 protests and violent riots. The damage it caused came at a high price of about $ 15 trillion, or 11.6% of world gross domestic product (GDP).
Among these, more than 5,000 were related to the pandemic and were recorded between January 2020 and April 2021.
Speaking to Al Jazeera in Sydney, Australia, Steve Killelea, CEO of the IEP, said: “There has been a slight decrease in calm in 2020. This was mainly caused by an increase in the number of violent demonstrations and levels of political instability.
“Part of that was fueled by the COVID-19 blockades and subsequent economic problems.”
India, Eastern Europe and the United States showed the greatest deterioration at this level due to the increase in demonstrations about coronavirus-related restrictions.
According to Killelea, the effect of the pandemic has been mixed.
“Initially, we saw a decrease in the number of homicides and violent crimes as closures were established. But that changed after a period of time, ”he said.
“It is still too early to fully measure the long-term effects of the pandemic on peace,” the report said.
It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the world’s population has experienced blockade measures, which last from weeks to months.
According to the World Bank estimates, the world economy shrank 4.3 percent in 2020 and ended with billions of dollars. Countries that are already facing economic difficulties plunged even further into debt.
An Oxfam International report (PDF) estimates that it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic consequences of the pandemic.
More violent protests
More generally, however, the most violent protests in the last year have been in Belarus, Myanmar, Russia, the US and Kyrgyzstan.
Belarus, a 9.5 millionth country that Russia considers a security buffer against NATO, has been shaken by mass demonstrations since August last year, following the presidential election that Alexander Lukashenko said would to win. Opponents say the vote was rigged and they want him to quit.
Myanmar has plunged into chaos since February 1 overthrew the government army elected by Aung San Suu Kyi. Strikes, boycotts and protests across the country paralyzed the economy, as tens of thousands of people were displaced by heavy fighting between military and rebels of ethnic minorities and newly formed militias.
Still, Afghanistan has been the most violent country in the world for the past four years. It follows closely Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Iraq, according to the report.
On the opposite side of the scale, Iceland occupies the position of the most peaceful country in the world since 2008. Together with New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia, it forms the five most peaceful countries in the world.
According to Killelea, over the past year there have been improvements in the number of deaths from violent conflict.
“There has been an increase in militarization in the last two years. But if we go back to the last decade, it would have improved, which will probably continue for years to come. “
Three regions were improved
According to Killelea, only three of the nine regions covered by the institute showed an improvement in the level of peace over the past year.
“Looking at the nine regions covered, three improved and the other six deteriorated. The biggest deterioration was in North America, ”Killelea said, explaining that the deterioration was primarily related to violence during the last U.S. election, the occupation of Capitol Hill and Black Lives Matter.
On the other hand, the largest improvement occurred in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), followed by Europe and South Asia, although the MENA region remains the least peaceful region. of the world, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the country that recorded the greatest fear of violence was Brazil, “where nearly 83% of Brazilians were very concerned about being a victim of violent crime,” the report said.
But the actual experience of violence was greatest in Namibia, “where 63% of the population suffered severe damage from violence or [had] I knew someone I had in the previous two years, ”he said.