World

Global conflicts 'cost 13% of world GDP'

  • 17 June 2015
  • From the section World
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Syrian residents flee Maskana town in the Aleppo countryside and make their way towards the Turkish border on 16 June 2015 Image copyright Reuters

Conflicts around the world cost $14.3tn (£9.1tn) last year, 13% of world GDP, says a survey on global peace.

That amount is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, the report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said.

The divide between the most peaceful and the least peaceful nations was deepening, the annual report added.

Iceland is the world's most peaceful nation, whilst Syria is the least.

Libya saw the most severe deterioration over the course of 2014, according to the Australia-based IEP says.

The Middle East and North Africa now ranks as the world's most violent region, overtaking South Asia which received that ranking for 2013.

Conflict killed 180,000 people in 2014, compared with 49,000 in 2010, the report said.

Deaths caused by terrorism increased by 61% in 2013, the report said, with the loss of almost 18,000 lives - mostly in just five countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

Figures compared

If the world decreased in violence by 10%, it would generate £1.43tn, says the IEP. This amount is equivalent to:

  • Six times the total value of Greece's bailout
  • Ten times the total official development assistance from rich to poor countries
  • Three times the total earnings of the 1.1 billion people living in extreme poverty under $1.25 a day

Source: IEP

The most surprising finding, said IEP Chief Executive Steve Killelea, was the "inequality with peace" around the world.

He said some countries in Western Europe had now reached "quite historic levels of peace", enjoying the lowest levels of murder rates and money spent on security "probably in the countries' history".

But Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic had all become more violent in the past year, the report said.

The IEP said the total costs of conflict amounted to 13.4% of world GDP.

"Large increases in costs have occurred due to deaths from internal conflict, IDPs [internally displaced people] and refugee support, UN peacekeeping and GDP losses from conflict," the report said.

It also noted that the cost of supporting some 50 million refugees and IDPs - the largest number since WWII - had risen 267% since 2008 to $128bn.

The report also found that if global violence were to decrease by 10%, it would effectively give the world economy an additional $1.43 trillion - more than six times the amount needed to wipe out Greece's debts, and three times more than the total earnings of some 1.1bn of the world's poorest people.

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