Trends in peace

Two of the leading studies on trends in peace and violence, namely the Global Peace Index and the Human Security Report, have reported seemingly different findings, however on closer inspection we can see they actually support one another.

Peace is on the rise

The 2013 Human Security Report focuses on a long-term “pacification process” and through an analysis of Stephen Pinker’s writing, argues that the world has become increasingly more peaceful since 10,000BCE. The report cites two key reasons for this reduction in violence as the end of colonialism and the end of the cold war.

The report and findings of this study are too complex to summarize in a simple paragraph, so I encourage all readers to take a look at the report or to skim through the highlights in the summary.

Peace is on the decline

The 2014 Global Peace Index Report shows that the world has become less peaceful, with a 5% decrease in levels of global peacefulness since 2008. The Global Peace Index Report is based on an analysis of trends in peace according to the Index’s 22 indicators of peace. These indicators span across three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, as well as the degree of militarisation.

There are a number of reasons for the deterioration of peace which can be explored in the "trends" section of the Global Peace Index Report (page 41).

So is peace on the rise or on the decline?

While there are many differences between the Global Peace Index Report and the Human Security Report, the one to focus on for this argument is the time period. The Human Security Report looks at long-term trends in violence, while the Global Peace Index report identifies short-term trends in peace.

Based on this and combining the findings of the two reports we can say long-term trends in violence show the world is becoming increasingly more peaceful; however over the last seven years there has been a relative deterioration in peace. 

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