South Africa ranks 118 out of 163 in the 2022 Global Peace Index

South Africa has been ranked 118 out of 163 countries in the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI), its best rating in 14 years, despite last year’s violent and prolonged July riots, which led to the deaths of more than 300 people. 

The GPI data was recorded between 1 April 2021 and 1 March 2022.

In 2020 and 2021, South Africa ranked 123 on the overall index. The country is viewed by the researchers as progressively peaceful, despite being punctured by violence. 

It was ranked 26 in the Sub-Saharan African region for 2022, preceded by Djibouti and followed by Kenya. 

International think-tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), released its results this week. 

Mauritius was rated tops for peacefulness among African countries, taking first place, and ranked 28 in the overall index, preceded by Australia and followed by Spain. 

Ghana, The Gambia and Botswana followed Mauritius as the most peaceful Sub-Saharan Africa countries, with their overall scores being 40, 45 and 48 respectively. Rwanda was ranked 11 in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 72 being its overall rank. 

Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan were ranked the least peaceful in the region, with their overall scores being 156, 158 and 159 respectively. 

“The largest deterioration in peacefulness in the region occurred in Guinea following a coup in September 2021. This was also the second largest deterioration of any country in the 2022 GPI. Peacefulness fell to the lowest level since 2008, with a deterioration of 13.7% when compared to the year prior,” according to the index.  

Top of the peaceful pops

Iceland tops the overall rankings as the world’s most peaceful country, followed by New Zealand, Ireland and Denmark. 

Canada lost its spot in the top 10 — falling to number 12 — as a result of violent demonstrations related to the government’s Covid-19 management measures. But it still far outranks its American cousin, placed at 129. 

Overall, 90 countries had improved in the ratings, with 71 deteriorating. 

The GPI found that the world had become less peaceful for the eleventh time in the past 14 years, with the average level of country peacefulness deteriorating by 0.3% over the past year. 

The think-tank also noted that political instability had deteriorated, “with 51 countries recording a fall in peacefulness in this indicator while only 26 improved in the past year. This indicator is now at its worst level since 2008”.

The Middle East and North Africa remained the least peaceful regions in the world, according to the index. 

The political terror indicator had risen to its highest level since the inception of the GPI in 2008, deteriorating by 3.2% in 2022. “This was driven by deteriorations in a number of African countries, as well as many governments’ responses to the threat of Covid-19.”

Syria (161), Yemen (162) and Afghanistan (163) sat at the bottom of the list, as least peaceful. 

Russia was ranked at 160, while Ukraine sat at 153, still one place higher than the conflict-riddled South Sudan. 

“The Russia and Eurasia region experienced the largest deterioration in peacefulness in the world in 2022, and remained the fourth least peaceful region for the third year. The region’s GPI score deteriorated sharply in 2022, following three consecutive years of improvements.

“Only four of the 12 countries in the region recorded improvements in peacefulness in 2022. Eight countries recorded deteriorations, including Ukraine and Russia, which had the largest and fourth largest global deteriorations respectively,” according to the index.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had led to a large rise in the number of conflict deaths as well as indicators such as refugees and internally displaced people, political instability and political terror.

The think-tank uses the GPI to measure “negative peace, using three domains of peacefulness”.

The first domain is Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict, which uses six statistical indicators.  

The second domain “evaluates the level of harmony or discord within a nation; eleven indicators broadly assess what might be described as societal safety and security”. 

“The assertion is that low crime rates, minimal terrorist activity and violent demonstrations, harmonious relations with neighbouring countries, a stable political scene and a small proportion of the population being internally displaced or made refugees can be equated with peacefulness.”

Six further indicators are related to a country’s militarisation, according to the think-tank, which reflects “the link between a country’s level of military build-up and access to weapons and its level of peacefulness, both domestically and internationally”. 

“Comparable data on military expenditure as a percentage of GDP and the number of armed service officers per head are gauged, as are financial contributions to UN peacekeeping missions.”

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