Friday, June 19, 2015

The Global Peace Index, the UN obsession with Israel

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is a non-profit organization that tries to define and measure peacefulness around the world. On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, it published its ninth annual Global Peace Index (GPI).

The 2015 Global Peace Index reveals that peace has a competitor: violence. Violence spreads. This threatens world peace. It threatens because ‘peace’ doesn’t spread from one state to another like wildfire. Violence does.

On the surface, global ‘peacefulness’ in 2015 looked good. It’s about the same as it was in 2014 (Global Peace Index, 2015 Executive Summary, p. 6). But that’s misleading, for two reasons.

First, the 2015 Index actually registered a worse performance than in 2008 (ibid). Second, those countries that became ‘less peaceful’ often became ‘more violent’.

When peacefulness deteriorated, it often did so because of terrorism, not marketplace performance or some other benign cause. Political violence and terror worsened (ibid, p.7). It worsened in in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, South Asia and especially MENA (Middle East and North Africa) (ibid). Terrorist acts by extremist groups, especially in MENA, increased (ibid); and the threat of terrorism has now begun to affect many of the world’s most peaceful countries (ibid).

The contrast between the peaceful and the violent becomes increasingly stark. In Europe, many nations experience historic levels of peacefulness (“2015 Global Peace Index Reveals an Increasingly Divided World” PRnewswire, June 17, 2015). That’s good news. But sectarian strife, civil strife--and the consequent refugee crisis that results from such conflict— have reduced levels of peace in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) to its lowest score ever (ibid).

The meaning of this is that, on the surface at least, the peaceful seem to have gotten more peace and the strife-ridden seem to have become more violent. For example, in 2014, 69 of 162 countries studied recorded deaths from terrorism, up from 60 the prior year. Growth in terrorist activity spread from MENA to Sub-Saharan Africa with the largest increases recorded in Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger. Nigeria is now the second most deadly country for terrorism after Iraq, experiencing a 140% increase over 2014 (ibid).  Cameroon recorded 191 deaths in 2014 compared to none the previous year (ibid).

The Boko Haram's massacre of over 2000 civilians in Baga, Nigeria in January 2015 highlights the horror of violence: it was the most deadly terrorist incident since 9/11 (ibid).

Then, in January 2015, there was France: 11 journalists at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo were murdered in a terror attack (ibid). That highlighted the growing threat of terrorism within those ‘most peaceful’ countries.

That’s the problem. The West looks so very peaceful just as global violence spirals out of control.

The number and intensity of armed conflicts has increased dramatically since 2010 (ibid). There’s a 267% rise in the number of deaths from conflict since 2010 (ibid). This translates into the number of deaths globally from conflict increasing from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014 (ibid).

This increasing violence, in turn, has created unprecedented levels of refugees (ibid). Latest estimates from the UNHCR (UN Human Rights Council) suggest that refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced People) add up to more than 50 million ‘refugees’—more than any time since World War Two.

The Global Peace Index is supposed to talk about peace. It does. But it also reveals that the cancer called violence spreads. Terror spreads. The threat of terror spreads.

People are afraid.

In his opening statement to the 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke of that fear. He spoke of the “unmistakable signs of a growing abandonment” of Human Rights around the world. He said “too many of us live among brutal conflicts”. He said, “Political turbulence, repression, violence and war have become so widespread that they impel millions of the world's people to risk their lives to find a place of relative safety”. 

He’s right. Violence consumes large tracts of the world’s geography. Something must be done.

It’s a shame that the UNHRC spends so much of its time accusing and demonizing a beleaguered and attacked Israel—the victim of terror—as the sole cause of so much of the world’s pain. As just one example of this inappropriate use of its time, the current Session of the UNHRC is working with 14 ‘Written Statements’ from NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) regarding Rights ‘trouble spots’ around the world. Five of those ‘Statements’—more than a third of them—concern Israel; and three of those five concern Israeli prisons.

Focusing on Israel in this way is not going to solve the global violence problem, not when 180,000 people died globally in conflicts in 2014, and millions were displaced.

In 2014, Israel was accused of killing 2,314 ‘Palestinians’ (Mairav Zonszein, “Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967”, The Guardian, March 27, 2015). That accusation raises a problem for the UN. It’s obsessed with Israel. It will allocate hundreds of hours to demonize Israel over those 2,314 deaths. But when it does that, it has hundreds of hours less time to figure out what to do about the other 177,686 conflict deaths world-wide.

The UN obsesses over Israel. It spends almost as much time with 1.3 per cent of world-wide conflict deaths (those involving Israel) as it spends with the remaining 98.7 per cent of deaths. That’s not exactly a demonstration of professional time-management skills.

As a result of this obsession with Israel, the UN neglects its world-wide duty. Global violence will spread. Peace will falter. Millions will suffer.

It will happen for one reason: the UN obsession with Israel.

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