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Canada in 10 most peaceful countries
WASHINGTON, MAY 25 (Agencies):
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Published on 25 May. 2011 10:26 PM IST
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Canada ranks for the first time among the world’s Top 10 most peaceful nations in a new global security assessment released Wednesday.
The Global Peace Index, which measures a complex array of 23 indicators ranging from levels of militarization to internal strife, incarceration and murder rates, placed Canada 8th internationally in 2011, jumping from 14th the previous year. The assessment is likely to raise eyebrows in Toronto, where the violent scenes that attended last year’s G20 Summit remain a topic of heated debate.
Yet the GPI report, while assigning Canada a “slight rise in the likelihood of violent demonstrations,” downplayed events surrounding the G20 as a one-time blip more than offset by broader Canadian trends toward “societal safety and security.”
Canada’s high ranking comes in stark contrast to that of the United States, which placed 82nd among 153 countries analyzed, reflecting “much higher levels of militarization and involvement in external conflicts than its northern neighbour,” the report said.
Iceland, now recovering from the 2009 global economic meltdown and largely bereft of internal and external strife, regained 1st place in the 2011 GPI report, to be released Wednesday in Washington. Iceland is followed by New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Small, stable democracies ranked highest, with 14 of the top 20 countries in western or central Europe. The overall trend in 2011 suggests the world become “slightly less peaceful” over the past year, the report summarized, reflecting a higher potential for terrorism and violent demonstrations amid the political turmoil of the Arab Spring.
Somalia scored last, followed closely by Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and North Korea in the fifth annual report, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit. The measurement of peace is an evolving science and this year the GPI refined its approach, weighing 23 “qualitative and quantitative factors ranging from a nation’s level of military expenditure to its relations with neighbouring countries and the level of respect for human rights.”
Canada’s rise in the global ranks came, in part, as others fell. But the GPI credited Ottawa for achieving a thaw during 2010 in neighbourly relations, as trade tensions with the United States receded and Canada dialed down rhetoric on arctic sovereignty, easing relations with Norway, Russia and others. “The reality is if you go down each of these 23 indicators, society is quite distinctly safer in Canada — and the difference of some 80 places above the United States is considerable,” Clyde McConaghy, president and co-founder of the GPI, told the Toronto Star.
“Even taking into account the G20 spike, Canada has startling distinctions that measure very well.”
Among other factors, the report credits Canada for “a moderately sophisticated and capable military sphere,” noting Canada’s defence budget has “broad declined” as a proportion of overall government spending since 1964, when three military branches were reorganized into the Canadian Armed Forces.
Limited access to small arms and light weapons and a comparatively low incarceration rate of 117 per 100,000 people in 2010 also elevated Canada in the global rankings.
Mideast countries struggling through the Arab Spring also saw a collapse in their global rankings, with Libya, Bahrain and Egypt falling farthest, in that order. But GPI officials acknowledge the possibility of “one step backward to go two steps forward” as the hope for many countries in the region.
“The question remains whether countries such as Libya, which experienced a huge fall, will be able to put in place more effective forms of government that will improve society for their own people,” said McConaghy.
The intent behind the GPI is to break new analytical ground on understanding “the conditions and structures that typify peaceful nations,” thereby offering a pathway for others to follow suit, he said.
“We don’t believe in failed states. We try to make no moral judgment on why and where (individual countries) are,” he said. He points to Angola — a country consistently rising from deep crisis 10 years ago — as an example of how “bottom-dwellers” are able to become “movers and shakers” toward stability and prosperity.
“As the research deepens, we now understand the structures of peace better than ever before,” said McConaghy. The findings, he said, provide “an actionable proposition” to show “these are the sorts of levers we need to pull to make more peaceful societies.”

 
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