Today, information flows in the air around us, it is an invisible network, it can become a terrible drug and knock down faster than avalanche. Every day we drown in huge waves of data, sensational and brilliant revelations coming from everywhere. News penetrate into our blood with morning coffee, fill our day with the sun and light up the night from the screens of our monitors. Is it possible to navigate in this informational chaos, especially in political issues?
Nobody will give any guarantees, but some support can be found. Research centers and institutions are working with huge amounts of data year after year, trying to organize and display totals on vital issues. The huge analytical work is also done in an effort to find the causes of world conflicts, terrorist attacks and threats. Not trying to prove something to the adherents of the theory of global conspiracy, let’s try to show the main results of this research on war and peace, basing on the analysis of ratings and indices of known research centers of the world.
Starting from 2007, under the auspices of the Institute for Economics and Peace (Australia), each year a group of experts from around the world calculates a Global Peace Index, evaluating the level of violence within the country and the level of aggressiveness of its foreign policy. The index is calculated on the basis of a special technique developed by the analytical unit of British magazine The Economist and statistics of international organizations such as the UN, World Bank, Transparency International and others. This index is designed to show the relationship of conflict and certain indicators of each country, to help identify ways to maintain peace and sustainable development on the planet. What do we see? A direct link between transparency of governance, lack of corruption and non-aggressive policy of the country, both in relation to other countries, as well as to its own citizens. Moreover, the dependence between the annual income level, school education, regional integration and peace-loving policy. It was also found that in matters of peace the size of the state and rate of change of its structure (stability) is also important: small stable countries are more peaceful.
The Global Terrorism Index, which is calculated by the Institute for Economics and Peace with the University of Maryland, also provides Interesting data. The index is based on information from a global database of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism – the world’s largest statistical database on terrorism, containing information on more than 100 thousand cases of terrorist acts over the past decade. The most unexpected result of the study was that poverty is not the main catalyst of terrorism but political instability, human rights violations and hostility between different social groups.
The annual survey Freedom in the World, which is carried out by the international non-governmental organization Freedom House, estimates the real situation with the rights and freedoms of citizens in the different countries of the world. The research methodology is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Almost a quarter, namely 57 out of 195 countries and 15 territories that do not have official status, are recognized as not free in 2014. This means that even today human rights and fundamental freedoms are at a very low level on a large part of the Earth. Considering the above given Global Terrorism Index, which emphasizes the importance of human rights for the world, this leads to a high risk of terrorist threats, not only in non-free areas.
Does military power influence on peacefulness of countries? Considering the Global Firepower Index (one of the most well-known and respected in the field), which is calculated by the team of the Global Firepower (GFP) and based on a complex methodology that takes into account more than 50 different factors, a certain connection is still there. Thus, the United States, with the greatest military power in the world, take only the 101 place out of 162 in the Global Peace Index of (thus is not a country with a high level of peace). Other leaders of the Global Firepower Index also cannot be called very peaceful: China (№3 of the Global Firepower Index) occupies the 108 place in the Global Peace Index, India (№4 of the Global Firepower Index) is on the 143 place in the Global Peace Index, and the Russian Federation (№2 of the Global Firepower Index) is 152 in the Global Peace Index.
However, the United Kingdom – the fifth military power in the world, is on the 47 place in the Global Peace Index; thus, it is a rather peaceful state. At the same time, Afghanistan – one of the least peaceful countries in the world (next to last place in the Global Peace Index) has very modest military capabilities, ranking 102 out of 126 countries according to the Global Firepower Index. The conclusion is that despite the obvious relationship between military arsenals and peace, something other than the military capabilities has a decisive influence on the aggressive policy of the state. What could it be? Let us consider several other related studies.
Since 1980, Freedom House conducts an annual comprehensive study – Freedom of the Press, assessing the state of media freedom in countries around the world. The general tendency is the following: a country with a low level of peace is at the bottom of Freedom of the Press ranking. So, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia and other “not peaceful” countries recognized “non-free”, with low level of freedom of speech, access of journalists and citizens to information, high levels of state control over the media.
Directly related to freedom of the press is an annual and comprehensive study assessing the state of Internet freedom in countries around the world (Freedom on the Net). Experts take into account criteria such as the freedom to disseminate and receive information on the Internet, legal restrictions, the degree of state control, forms of censorship, violation of the rights of Internet users and others. Trends are similar to the previous ranking: countries with low levels of peace are at the tail of the Freedom on the Net rating.
Conclusions are obvious: the observance of human rights and freedoms is one of the most important criteria for maintaining peace, reducing the threat of terrorism. Efforts aimed at fighting with corruption, at regional cooperation, maintaining the proper level of education and income of all citizens are not in vain: all these efforts lead to a peaceful sky. Aggression and war depends not from the amount of weapons, but from the level of freedom, respect between people and social groups, transparency in public administration, political stability, freedom of the press. This is what each of us should pay attention to.