The woeful state of global peace

The woeful state of global peace
The woeful state of global peace: only 10 countries are completely conflict free.
By Ben Aris in Moscow June 30, 2016

The world has entered a period of turmoil. The UK decision to leave the EU is only the latest event to add to instability, but in less-civilized parts of the world this uncertainty is manifest in violence and war.

“War, terrorism and the refugeee crisis have all combined to make the world less peaceful this year than it was last year. The 2016 Global Peace Index claims that only 10 nations around the world are completely free from conflict, with countries in the Middle East and North Africa experiencing the greatest deterioration in peace. The countries free from internal and external conflict were named as Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vietnam,” writes Niall McCarthy from Statista that made the map below.

Conflict has massive financial consequences on top of the human suffering, McCarthy goes on to say. In 2015, war and violence cost the global economy $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace.

And global peace is further undermined by the rising military spending. As bne IntelliNews recently reported, weapons sales rose to record levels in 2015 of $65bn, according to IHS Jane’s annual global defence trade report, and is set to go even higher this year to top $69bn. Most of this spending is going on in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and most of the selling is being done by the US and Russia, who are themselves locked in a geopolitical showdown to increase their respective influences in the other big regions of the world.

This clash will only get worse after Russia’s success at shoring up its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year and the increasingly tight relationship it is building with India and China; notably, President Vladimir Putin was in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent on June 23 where he announced India would join Russia and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a nascent security alliance, next year.

“As you have seen, we are about to admit two large countries, India and Pakistan. Pure formalities remain to be completed; there is good reason to believe that as of next year, they will be full members of this organisation. With their admission, the organisation naturally acquires a different ring to it and a different weight,” Putin told journalists after the meeting.

The SCO has until now been largely concerned with improving economic cooperation amongst its members of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. However, the SCO’s mandate names the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism as its primary objective. In other words, it is first and foremost devoted to security issues. Many of the countries in the SCO are engaged in their own wars against Islamic extremism.