NZ tops survey of most peaceful countries

June 10, 2010

New Zealand is listed as the world's most peaceful country in the 2010 Global Peace Index. The global financial crisis had made the world less peaceful by fuelling crime and civil unrest, the worldwide study said, but the risk of outright armed conflict appeared to be falling. New Zealand was said to be the most peaceful country, followed by Iceland and Japan. The index - which examines several dozen indicators from the crime rate to defence spending, conflicts with neighbouring states and respect for human rights - showed an overall reduction in the level of peacefulness. The key drivers were a 5 per cent rise in homicide, more violent demonstrations and a greater fear of crime. "We have seen what looks like a direct impact from the [financial] crisis," Steve Killelea, the Australian entrepreneur behind the index, told Reuters. Minimising the impact could mean ensuring any economic pain was equitably shared across society to maintain social cohesion, he said. The struggling eurozone economies of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain showed a particular rise in unrest risks, while Africa and the Middle East were the only two regions to have become safer since the survey began in 2007.