Vienna, March 11 – Russia ranks 136th out of 144 countries in teams of “peacefulness” according to Australia’s Global Peace Index, not only leaving it bracketed by Zimbabwe and Pakistan but also putting it far down the list compared to other former Soviet republics and the three Baltic countries included in this assessment.
In a commentary yesterday on the site of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum which “strives to promote cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights and freedom of speech, Kerkko Paananen call attention to this sad state of affairs (finRosforum.fi, March 10).
The Australian Institute for Economics and Peace released the report earlier this week, ranking what it calls “the relative tranquility” of 144 countries on the basis of 23 different indicators, including among other things, gun sales, homicides, size of the military, terrorism, and the number of people in jail (www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/results/rankings/2009/)..
On the basis of those and related measures, the ten most peaceful countries in the world are New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Finland and Slovenia. The ten least are Zimbabwe, Russia, Pakistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Israel, Somalia, Afghanistan and last Iraq.
In between were, among others, the United States at 83rd position and Iran at 99th. Of the former Soviet republics ranked, Moldova was 75th, Ukraine 82nd, Kazakhstan 84th, Belarus 98th, Turkmenistan 101st, Uzbekistan 106th, Azerbaijan 114th, and Georgia 134th. The three Baltic states were assessed as much more pacific: Estonia ranked 38th, Lithuania 43rd, and Latvia 54th.
Not only was Russia’s ranking low in 2009, but it represented a decline from its position in the two earlier surveys – in 2008, Russia ranked 131st, and in 2007, it stood at 118th place – but it was rated less “peaceful” than any of the other former Soviet republics, including even those in the violence-plagued South Caucasus.
Russia’s low ranking, Paananen pointed out, reflected widespread perceptions of criminality, low levels of trust, low levels of respect for human rights, the imprisonment of people for political activity, detention without trial, politically motivated executions, disappearances and torture.
The Institute for Economics and Peace provides a breakout of the data for each of the 144 countries it examined. Russia was especially high in the level of internal organized conflict, tense relations with neighbors, widespread perceptions of criminality, low respect for human rights, high number of homicides per100,000 residents, and level of violent crime.
Russia also earned its low rating, analysts at the Australian social science research center said because of the high number of people jailed per 100,000 population, the large number of internal security officers per 100,000, and large size of exports of weapons (www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/results/russia/2009/).
For each of the countries rated, the Institute listing provides a large number of social, economic and political data, making the compilation extremely useful for those in search of comparisons even if, as is the case with all such rankings, reasonable people can and will disagree as to the relative ranking of the various countries.
But at the very least, the Australian institute’s rankings deserve to be put along other analytic listings including those assessing economic, political and media freedoms. When that is done, one thing is stands out: those countries that rate low on those measures -- such as the Russian Federation -- also rate toward the bottom on this measure as well.