Conflict incurred global cost of $13 trillion

9 Jun 16

Increasing violence and unrest cost the world economy $13.6 trillion, or 13.3% of global GDP, in 2015, according to the annual Global Peace Index.

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Abandoned tanks in Darfur, Sudan

Abandoned tanks in Darfur, Sudan

 

The index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, highlighted that this figure completely dwarfs the investments made in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, which amounted to only $15bn, or 2% of the total losses.

It also reported that the world is getting less peaceful, with terrorism at an all-time high and battle deaths from conflict at a 25-year high.

The index said the biggest overall increase was in violence related to terrorism, which, although accounting for a small percentage of deaths, has been growing steadily over the past decade.

There were 80% more terrorism deaths in 2015 compared to the previous year.

While the majority of terrorist acts remain concentrated in five countries – Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria – all but two regions registered an increase.

This is part of a decade-long, historic decline in world peace, interrupting the long-term improvements seen since the World War II.

Much of this decline is driven by events in the Middle East and North Africa, with three of the five biggest declines occurring in Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.

Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan also suffer the largest economic impact of violence as a percentage of their GDP, losing 54%, 54% and 45% respectively.

While the most peaceful countries have remained peaceful or improved, the least peaceful have seen an intensification in conflict and violence over the last 10 years.

The report said any peace gains are offset by the size of the deterioration in the least peaceful places, as well as the increase in peace inequality as the gap between conflict-free and conflict-ridden countries grows ever wider.

Decreases in peace lead to higher military and internal security spending and greater losses from conflict, crime and interpersonal violence.

The report stressed that if the world could decrease violence by 10% it could save $1.36tn in annual economic resources and by generating economic activity – that’s more than total global foreign direct investment in 2014 and ten times official aid flows that year.

“There is an enormous economic payoff to investing in peace and preventing violence,” it concluded.

 

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