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2017 findings of the Global Peace Index

On Wednesday, June 14th, we went to the Market Garden Brewery on West 25th Street to attend the last program of the 2016-2017 season of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) which featured Ms. Michelle Breslauer, Program Director of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), presenting the 2017 findings of the Global Peace Index.

Before the presentation, we talked to Mr. Charlie Polinko of CCWA and learned that the annual meeting on Monday (we had to leave early) went quite well. Along these lines, we introduced ourselves to Ms. Valeria Flores whose mother, Ms. Andrea Villalon was honored there as "Distinguished Volunteer of the Year." We also talked with Mr. Robert Theil who we met previously at the City Club back on May 18th when the author, Mr. Brad Stone, spoke there. This was Mr. Theil's first time at a CCWA event.

Two other people that we enjoyed talking to were Mr. Christopher Davis who we see all of the time at CCWA happenings and Mr. Rolland Swegan who is in the mobile home business. Naturally, since we, ourselves, own a mobile home we liked talking to Mr. Swegan and learned that mobile homes/manufactured housing is becoming quite popular in Europe.

During her presentation, Ms. Breslauer explained her involvement with the IEP which is "an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to building a greater understanding of the key drivers and measures of peace as well as indentifying the economic benefits that increased peacefulness can deliver." To be sure, we learned that peace is to our economic advantage; the global economic impact of violence was $14.3 trillion PPP in 2016 which is the equivalent to 12.6% of the global GDP which is equal to $5.40 per person, per day on a global basis.

What the Global Peace Index, which is in its 11th year, does is to rank 163 countries using the domains of the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict and the degree of militarization. In order to do this it makes use of 23 indicators which are guided and overseen by a panel of International experts. 

As a whole, over the last decade, the world has seen a "2.14% decline in global peacefulness. Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa has been the main driver of this fall leading to large increases in battle deaths, deaths from terrorism, and the degree of refugees and IDPs in the world." In fact, the number of refugees and IDPs has doubled in this time period. On a more positive note, "the world has become slightly more peaceful compared to the prior year, with an average increase in peacefulness of 0.28%. While 93 countries had improved levels of peacefulness, compared to 63 that deteriorated, the gap between the most and least peaceful countries has grown.

So what we need to strive for is "positive peace" which is defined as the "attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies" and its eight pillars are a sound business environment, high levels of human capital, good relations with neighbors, acceptance of the rights of others, low levels of corruption, free flow of information, well-functioning government, and equitable distribution of resources. 

As for the United States, out of 163 countries our ranking is now a lowly 114 largely due to an increase in "perceptions of criminality" reflecting a dramatic fall of trust between citizens; our homicide rate has increased 11% between 2014-2015 due to a spike in prominent cities; eroding of acceptance of the rights of others and the free flow of information; "corruption and group grievances" increased; and "organized internal conflict deteriorated as a result of the sharp political polarization in the country and the sporadic outbreaks of violence."

So, very sadly, our recent "Positive Peace" score drop was one of the largest in the world. It was weird that we should learn about this on the very day of the shooting of U.S. Representative Steve Scalise and four other people at the GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, VA.



Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC