Every year, the international think tank Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) publishes its Global Peace Index
report, which evaluates the level of peacefulness of 163 independent states and territories, spanning 99.7 percent of the world’s population.
The Index quantifies peace according to more than 20 indicators across three main domains: societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and militarization.
Overall, the IEP found that the world has turned less peaceful this year, driven by major conflicts like Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the Taliban’s ongoing violations of human rights in Afghanistan. Eighty-nine countries saw improvements in their domestic peace situation, but this was more than offset by the 79 territories with deteriorating peacefulness.
One of the biggest losers in the Index is Sri Lanka, which plummeted 18 places
from last year’s ranking. A major driver of this is the country’s economic meltdown in 2022, when its foreign reserves were depleted, forcing the country to default on its loans
. Without funds to import fuel, food, and other essentials, many Sri Lankans grew hungry and desperate.
In July 2022, this widespread frustration exploded into massive riots
, with protesters swarming and occupying the presidential palace.
Though the street demonstrations have mostly calmed down, Sri Lanka’s economic crisis continues. In the first quarter of this year, the economy contracted by 11.5 percent, an even bigger shrink than what analysts had expected, according to a report
by Reuters, citing official government figures.
Beyond the economy-fueled domestic unrest, Sri Lanka’s campaign for peace is also hamstrung by its growing militarization. Instead of finding rapid and sustainable means to save the economy, Sri Lanka’s central government unleashed its armed forces
against civilians who were protesting the shortage of food and fuel in the country.
Instead of resorting to force and violence, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights urged
Sri Lanka’s government to take a more peaceful and human rights-centric approach to these protests and launch a national dialogue, as well as enact institutional reforms, to ease the economic burden on its people.
Despite its rapidly deteriorating peace situation, Sri Lanka is still the third most peaceful nation in South Asia – eclipsed only by Nepal and Bhutan – speaking to the degree of strife in the region. Still reeling from decades of armed conflict
and the chaotic pull-out
of American troops in 2020, Afghanistan is the least peaceful country in South Asia and the world.