Attempts to quantify peace often fall into the negative peace category: “peace as a lack of war or violence.” One such quantification attempt is the Global Peace Index (GPI), which is maintained by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), and does ascribe to that definition. The GPI takes into account 23 weighted indicators based on this concept of negative peace. The 23 indicators fall into three broad categories, which include ongoing domestic and international conflict, societal safety and security, and militarization. For an exhaustive list of the indicators and their weights, please feel free to review the methodology appendix of the report.
|157||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|155||Central African Republic|
While the preponderance of the GPI takes into account negative peace, IEP also calculates a Positive Peace Index (PPI). The PPI empirically takes into account what IEP deems the eight pillars of positive peace discussed above. While the IEP doesn’t enumerate the country rankings explicitly for PPI as it does for GPI, one of the interesting aspects is the comparison of the ranks of GPI to the PPI to help predict potential violence in countries. The IEP categories countries with either a positive peace deficit, a positive peace surplus, or stable. If a country is 20 places higher in GPI than PPI, it is considered to have a positive peace deficit. If the converse is true, the countries are considered to have a positive peace surplus. Countries are considered stable if they have a difference of less than 20 places between the GPI and PPI rankings. The IEP (2021) maintains that the peace experienced by countries with a positive peace deficit generally will not last (though there are some exceptions to this). These indices are certainly an interesting quantification of peace and the interplay between positive and negative peace constructs.
One interesting example is the case of Norway. Norway is often seen as a “peace nation,” as evidenced by Skanland (2010) deep dive into Norway’s peace discourse, engagements, and national identity. When looking at the IEP’s 2021 GPI, this moniker would not be apparent, with Norway’s ranking being 14, behind several other nations. However, when you consider the 2020 PPI rankings, Norway’s ranking is 1. When compared, the difference between GPI and PPI rankings for Norway is 13, placing it in IEP’s “stable” category. While even in terms of GPI Norway is considered to be one of the top nations, it is also important to consider its ranking in terms of positive peace as well. These nuances are important to consider when thinking about peace.
What do you think is lost in the attempts of the IEP to quantify positive and negative peace?
What do you think this approach does well? What do you think it does poorly?
In your exercise for this lesson, you’ll examine the role of scale in some of the quantifications. So be thinking about how these indices can change with scale.
Institute for Economics and Peace. (2021). Global Peace Index 2021: Measuring peace in a complex world.
Skanland, O. H. (2010). ‘Norway is a peace nation’: A discourse analytic reading of Norwegian peace engagement. Cooperation and Conflict, 45(1), 34-54.