Amjad Saleem looks at the complexities around violent behaviour and its causes, and calls for civil society to be better at risk management and pursuing conflict without violence.
A cursory glance at the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI, visionofhumanity.org) makes for very interesting reading. Out of the top 20 most peaceful nations, only three out of the 53 members of the Commonwealth make the cut – New Zealand, Canada and Australia – although not all the smaller member states are included in the index. Out of the 50 most peaceful nations in the world, a further six members are added – Singapore, Mauritius, Malaysia, Botswana, United Kingdom and Namibia. What the GPI shows is that the world has become generally less peaceful since 2008, a situation largely attributable to the rise of conflicts within states, the rise of terrorism and increasing levels of criminality. The number of displaced people and refugees is the highest since the end of the Second World War. Although the long-term trend in peacefulness is positive (there has been a marked and persistent downturn in levels of violence and conflict since the end of the Second World War), the number and intensity of high-profile conflicts and atrocities in the short term have increased.
While the first half of the 20th century was a major period of inter-state warfare and wars of decolonisation, the second half gave way to an era of predominantly civil conflicts. A little over 20 per cent of the world’s population live in countries under the threat of large-scale, organised violence, according to the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report. Experiences over the last decade in many parts of the world illustrate the challenges that the changing nature of armed conflict poses for peace as the landscape and nature of conflict is changing. Challenges to the established order in different places around the world are arising linked to diverse causes – political change, regional and national autonomy, urbanisation, climate change, faith and cultural identity, or securing the basic conditions of life…
*Statistics within article correct at original publication date of CHOGM 2015 Report.
Country Director of International Alert in Sri Lanka