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The pandemic increased civil protests and accelerated political instability in the


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The level of peace around the world declined in 2020 for the ninth time, in thirteen years, due to the increase in civil unrest and protests and growing political instability, as reflected in the results of the Global Peace Index, a study carried out since 2007 by the Institute for the Economy and Peace (IEP).

According to the results made public this Thursday, the decrease in 2020 was 0.07%. This fall would have been encouraged by the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected globally. Overall, 14,871 violent demonstrations and riots were recorded last year, compared to 13,518 in 2019.

According to the report, civil unrest increased by 10% in 2020, with more than 5,000 demonstrations attributed to coronavirus restrictions. «The rest would be related to very varied manifestations: in the US this is the case of Black Lives Matter; in India, the restriction against farmers; in Latin America, protests caused by economic inequality; and in general due to political instability ”, he explains to ABC Michael Collins, IEP Executive Director for the Americas.

Regarding the effect of the pandemic, he confirms that “the Covid has had an impact on the levels of peace, but eits impact has been both positive and negative. With regard to violent conflicts, homicides and crimes, including robbery, at least in the initial part of the pandemic, we did see a reduction, says Collins, which in some countries was significant, such as in South Africa, where homicides were they were reduced by 50% ». In terms of negative impact, “we have seen more than 5,000 demonstrations related to Covid, more riots, more hate crimes – against the Asian population – …”. According to the study, there were an average of 200 violent events related to the pandemic per month from August 2020 to April 2021.

Despite these data, Collins is cautious and leaves a margin to see what the other long-term consequences of the pandemic will be: “We are going to see many consequences of what has been the economic impact, something that will be appreciated in the next year, in the next two or even in the longer term, “he says. This economic impact will affect businesses, the tourism sector and also state investment, according to Collins. “At the global level, investment in development aid, in humanitarian aid, even in activities against terrorism, will be reduced.” The consequence is that each country will have to restrict its accounts or “focus them on internal issues.” Something that is expected to lead to more civil protests. “We assume that we are going to see more political instability, more inequality …”. Already in 2020, the political situation deteriorated in 77 countries. A trend that, however, is not only related to Covid-19. “We have been seeing them for more than a decade. What is happening now is that the pandemic has acted as an accelerator, “stresses Collins.

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Among the upward trends that would be related to the pandemic is the increase in suicides, by 25%; and domestic violence, as a consequence of the confinement measures. Thus the report estimates that 243 million people suffered domestic violence in 2020. In the first case, the coronavirus “has increased risk factors: isolation, financial stress, and unemployment. We could say that calls to helplines have increased significantly in several countries. For example, in the US it has risen 1,000 percent. ‘

Perception of security

In relation to gender-based violence, Collins points to the inclusion in the IEP study of the results of a survey focused on the perception of one’s own security and “the fear of future violence.” «We have seen, in general, that women do have more concern, between 5% and 20% more than men. But at the level of experience of violence, because they have suffered it at some time or you know someone who has suffered it, the perception is practically similar on a global level, although this changes according to which countries ”, he clarifies.

According to this survey, 1 in 7 participants indicates crime, violence or terrorism as the greatest risk to their safety on a day-to-day basis, only below traffic accidents. And while 75% of those surveyed say they feel safer now than five years ago, the answer differs completely in the countries of Latin America. South America is where the worst perception exists, with 50% of those surveyed feeling less secure than five years ago. “At the level of which is the greatest source of risk, this is the case, and this also extends to Central America. But the level of experience of violence is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are five countries –Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Liberia and Zambia- where more than 50% of the population reports having suffered violence in recent years, “explains Collins. This is abysmal. It is incredible how violence is part of our lives, “he emphasizes.

In contrast, it is striking that 35% of respondents from countries with an authoritarian government they have stated that they have a greater perception of security now than five years ago. «It is interesting to study this dynamic. In the long term, what we see is that more democratic countries tend to be more peaceful than authoritarian ones, which tend to be more violent. It is something that is reflected in the ranking: from the first country (Iceland) to the last (Afghanistan). But there are these points of analysis that do not suppose a trend, but are something very concrete. With this, he refers to how countries like China have maintained more restrictions, compared to other more democratic ones where there has been much more mobility “because there were many trips for tourism. And they have been more impacted by the Covid because of the fact that they are more open and democratic. But when we look at it in the long term, democratic societies are the most resilient. They have more channels, through which certain challenges can be faced. While the authoritarians do not have that capacity.

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Fewer victims of terrorism

Among the positive data, the study includes the decrease in the number of deaths from terrorism, which has decreased for the sixth consecutive year. Preliminary data for 2020 suggests that fewer than 10,000 deaths were caused by terrorism. It is because of that Middle eastAlthough it is still the least peaceful region in the world, it is the one that has improved the most in the last year. “I am related to the end of the war in Iraq and Syria. And that the conflict has moved to the region of Sub-Saharan Africa ”, he points out.

The study classifies a total of 163 countries according to their level of peace, taking into account 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, which refer to internal variables such as violence and crime; and external, such as military spending and the wars in which the country participates, among others. A list that one more year is headed by Iceland as the State with the highest peace index, a position in which it has been maintained since 2008; followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. At the opposite pole, with the lowest peace index, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan close the list, repeating for the fourth time in last place.

Europa cup, for the first time since the study began, eight of the top ten places of the 2020 Global Peace Index. A ranking in which Spain ranks 31st worldwide, improving one place compared to the previous year, and ranking 22nd with respect to the European continent, which is always ranked as the most peaceful region, “Although there are now some exceptions, as in the case of Belarus,” says Collins.

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Among the countries that have seen their peace index deteriorate the most in the past year, the study places Belarus, which has dropped 19 places in the ranking. A state that lived through convulsive elections after the alleged fraud committed by Lukashenko, which triggered strong protests and exile on the part of opposition leaders. Zambia, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan and Honduras They complete the list of countries that have suffered a major worsening of their situation.

In front of them, the countries that have improved are Vietnam, North Macedonia, Poland, Ukraine and Iraq (although this very slightly, which does not allow it to leave the bottom of the list).

In total, in 2020 75 countries would have improved their position, compared to 86 who would have made it worse. A trend, the latter, which has persisted since 2008, accumulating a 2% deterioration.

Another of the variables that the study measures is the economic impact of violence, which has increased in 2020 to 14.96 trillion of dollars, which is roughly equivalent to 11.6 percent of world GDP, due to increased military spending. “We have seen a change in trend in the last two years. We have been reducing levels of militarization around the world for a decade, and this has been increasing.

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