A Simple Question for a Wicked Problem

By Melanie Greenberg, President & CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding

Published on Diplomatic Courier

It seemed like such a simple question: “What is the most peaceful country in the world?” And yet very few people outside a rarified group of political scientists could answer that question in 2006. I remember the first launch of the Global Peace Index, where a certain sense of skepticism reigned. Experts questioned the indicators, poked holes in the methodology, and anxiously scanned the list to see where their own countries fell in the rankings. I remember my seatmates being outraged that the United States – THE UNITED STATES! – fell dangerously close to Iran and Israel in the rankings, far from the top tier of most peaceful nations.

The signal accomplishment of the Institute for Economics and Peace has been the creation of a framework flexible enough to encompass massive changes in the world – witnessing revolutions in politics and technology – and yet consistent enough to show real change over the course of ten years. The Global Peace Index and its sister indices have democratized the economic language of peace, allowing all of us – not just economists and political scientists — to understand in harrowing detail both the costs of violence containment, and the potential dividends for peace.

As the leader of a network of 106 peacebuilding organizations working in 153 countries, I use elements of the Global Peace Index in every aspect of my advocacy for peace.

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