Killelea has been crunching the numbers on peace ever since.He established the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace, which produces the internationally renowned Global Peace Index.Each year it ranks nations according to their peacefulness in a bid to nurture a deeper understanding of...
Killelea has been crunching the numbers on peace ever since.
Each year it ranks nations according to their peacefulness in a bid to nurture a deeper understanding of the impact of violence and how to foster more peaceful societies.
Killelea spoke about the economic impact of violence, as well as economic benefits that flow from improvements in peace, at the Rotary International Presidential Peacebuilding Conference in Sydney on Saturday.
Killelea said that of the 163 countries the institute had monitored over the past decade, 80 had become more peaceful while 83 have become less peaceful.
Because the level of peace in the world’s most violent places has deteriorated so much, the overall level of global peace has deteriorated by 2.1 per cent in that decade.
Conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa were the main driver of this fall.
The latest index ranks the small Nordic nation of Iceland as the world’s most peaceful country, followed by New Zealand and Portugal. Australia was ranked 12th.
The world’s least peaceful nations were Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“At the top end of the global peace index nations have become slightly more peaceful whereas at the bottom of the index we find that the nations have got a lot less peaceful,” Killelea told the Sun-Herald. “Therefore you have got this growing global inequality in peace.”
The economic impact of violence across the world was estimated to be $14.3 trillion in 2016, equivalent to nearly 13 per cent of global economic production.
That means reducing the annual cost of violence by just 10 per cent would be the equivalent of 10 times the amount of aid given to low-income countries.
While most nations near the top of the peace index have high incomes, wealth is no guarantee of a high rating. The United States, for instance, was ranked 114 on the latest index, between Rwanda and El Salvador.
The index, which covers almost 98 per cent of the world’s population, measures peacefulness using three broad categories: the level of societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.
Killelea , 68, emphasises the importance of “positive peace”, which he describes as “the attitudes, institutions and structures” that create and sustain peaceful societies.
“Countries which are improving in positive peace have had 2 per cent per annum higher GDP growth rates, they have higher per capita income, they perform better on ecological measures and they perform better on inclusion measures including gender rights,” he said.
The institute has also produced the Global Terrorism Index for the past five years. The latest report revealed a global decline in the number of deaths from terrorist attacks to 25,673 people in 2016, a 22 per cent improvement from a peak in 2014. Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria were the nations most affected by terrorism.
Killelea, who grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches, made a fortune in IT before turning his attention to philanthropy. He still chairs the publicly listed firm he founded, Integrated Research, which provides specialist computer services to clients including some of the world’s largest banks, airlines and telecommunications companies.
Killelea’s family foundation contributes about $5 million a year to development projects in poor communities, mainly in Africa and parts of South East Asia.
“It’s been a helluva rewarding experience,” he said.
Matt is a senior writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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