Peacefulness in Canada?

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How do we measure peace? The 2020 Global Peace Index (GPI) has just been released (June 2020), and has the un-enviable task of determining the peacefulness in our globally diverse societies.

Compared to other countries, Canada’s ranks near the top in sixth position is unchanged from 2019. For smugness, yes, we rate far above our southern neighbour, who came in at 121 (out of 163 countries measured). This years ranking does include the beginnings of recent demonstrations on race relations, environmental concern and police violence in North America.

The ranking across countries takes into account governance types, claims that its indicators cover 99.7 per cent of the global population, and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators in three thematic domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

The GPI also seeks to identify trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, and examines the relationship between the actual peace of a country, as measured by the GPI, and Positive Peace, and how a deficit of Positive Peace can be a predictor of future increases in violent conflict.

The indicators are: External Conflicts Fought; Perceptions of Criminality; Internal Conflicts Fought; Incarceration Rate; Intensity of Internal Conflict; Violent Demonstrations; Terrorism Impact; Nuclear and Heavy Weapons; Deaths from External Conflict; Weapons Imports; Violent Crime; Political Instability; Neighbouring Countries Relations; Access to Small Arms; Police Rate; Armed Services Personnel Rate; Weapons Exports; Homicide Rate; Military Expenditure (% GDP); Refugees and IDPs; Political Terror Scale; Deaths from Internal Conflict; UN Peacekeeping Funding.

According to the 2020 GPI, “Canada’s overall level of peacefulness improved slightly, thanks to improvements in scores across all three GPI domains. The single largest improvement occurred on the terrorism impact indicator. Canada had a spike in terrorism between 2017 and 2018, with 16 people killed from 16 confirmed terrorist attacks. However, the number of attacks and deaths dropped in 2019, leading to the improvement in score on the 2020 GPI. Canada also had improvements both its incarceration rate and police rate. However, there was a slight increase in the homicide rate, which rose to 1.8 per 100,000 people, and also slight increases in military expenditure and weapons exports” It should be noted here, that the police rate is the number of police per 100,000 people. Canada’s police rate is almost identical to the Nordic countries, ie very low numbers of police per citizen. Civil unrest is primarily non-violent demonstrations, followed by general strikes and riots.

There are subsections of the GPI which look at each of the above indicators in itself and regionally. Specific changes, either positive or negative for individual countries can be found. The report is important reading for everyone concerned with the building of more peaceful societies. That should be all of us….

Global Peace Index 2020, June 2020

Special Report: COVID-19 & Peace, June 2020

Both by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). IEP is headquartered in Sydney, with offices in New York, The Hague, Mexico City, Brussels and Harare.

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