Addis Ababa (Alshahid) – According to a recent release of the 2010 Global Peace Index Ethiopia, whose army pulled out of neighboring Somalia last year, showed the greatest rise in peacefulness in 2009 among 149 countries studied in the survey.
The most peaceful country is New Zealand, retaining the position for the second straight year, followed by Iceland and Japan.
The U.S with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was the 85th most-peaceful country, one spot ahead of Angola and five spots behind China. Russia finished at 143, the seventh least- peaceful country in the world, just ahead of Israel.
The 2010 Global Peace Index was conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney.
Leading from the most ‘unpeaceful’ countries is Iraq followed by Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan in that order.
Ethiopia’s withdrawal of troops from Somalia in January 2009 after a two-year occupation as well as a decline in military spending helped the African nation rise to 127th most peaceful nation in the 2010 survey from 133 the year before.
The president of the peace index Clyde McConaghy said the key drivers of peace are a well-functioning government and judiciary, freedom of the press, the ability to deliver social services and a high percentage of youth enrolled in schools.
“In fact, democracy doesn’t correlate as directly with peacefulness as a well-functioning government does,” McConaghy said in an interview.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and its allies won all but three of 547 parliamentary seats in May national elections, according to the National Electoral Board. A European Union observer mission declared the campaign failed to meet certain “international commitments.”
The index which ranks countries using 23 criteria was devised by the peace institute’s board of advisers, and the data were compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit in London.
New Zealand scored 1.188 on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 1 would be a country completely at peace.
Every 10 spots a country moves up in the Peace Index is marked by an average $3,100 rise in per-capita gross domestic product, McConaghy said.
“If the world were 25 percent more peaceful, you could fund all the UN millennium goals, pay off Greece’s debt and pay all the interest on the U.S. debt for a year,” McConaghy said.
The UN’s Millennium Development Goals are a plan by the world body to cut extreme poverty by half, halt the spread of AIDS and provide universal primary education by 2015.
Measuring peace allows countries and companies to better assess the risks of major shocks to the global economy and to evaluate efforts to reduce those risks, according to a discussion paper presented along with the report.
“Peaceful countries tend to have lower interest rates, lower risk profiles, shorter payback periods and provide a more stable environment for investment,” according to the discussion paper.
Estonia, the Baltic nation of 1.3 million people bordering Russia, joined Madagascar, Pakistan and Yemen as the countries with the greatest decline in peacefulness within their borders since 2007, the year the survey was first issued.
Steve Killelea, chairman of Integrated Research Ltd., a computer services company based in Sydney founded the Institute for Economics and Peace in 2008 after the first peace index.