Sociopolitical conflicts and internal violence have made Colombia one of the «least peaceful» countries in Latin America, according to a study published yesterday by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

In one of its most important findings, the investigation highlights that the economic impact of violence represents more than a fifth of the country’s economy.

The Global Peace Index positions the country in 140th place (tied with Venezuela). It is the lowest location in the entire region.

The institute, with headquarters in Sydney and offices in cities such as London, New York, Harare and Mexico City, evaluated in its seventeenth report the levels of peace in 163 countries around the world, which represents just over 99.7 percent of the world population.

After Colombia and Venezuela, the Latin American countries lowest in the index are: Brazil (132), Haiti (129), Nicaragua (123), El Salvador (122), Honduras (120), Peru (103), Cuba (99 ) ), Ecuador (97), the Dominican Republic (93) and Bolivia (78), while Paraguay and Panama share the 68th position.

View of internally displaced Colombian population.


Jaiver Nieto / EL TIEMPO

Europe, led by Iceland and Denmark, is once again the most peaceful region in the world, while among the Latin American countries Costa Rica (39) -some seven places below Spain-, Uruguay (50) are in the best positions. , Argentina (54) and Chile (58).

The detailed report that uses 23 qualitative methods and quantitative indicators, relying on various sources to develop its ranking, and takes into account three large domains: the level of social security and protection, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization. .

It is worth mentioning that Colombia went from position 142 to 140 in this report.
The report, in fact, notes that the country had a slight improvement in its average scores compared to last year’s report.

However, the investigation emphasizes that it is one of those who suffer the most from the economic impact of violence due to «the number of refugees and internally displaced persons.»

This is reflected in the economic impact that conflicts generate in the country.
With a cost of 28.6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022, Colombia is on the list of eight countries —along with Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan, North Korea, Somalia and the Central African Republic— where the The economic impact of violence represents more than a fifth of its economy.

Hence, in part, one of the reasons why Colombia occupies this position in the Index.

The current Venezuelan exodus is one of the largest population movements in Latin American history. This photo was taken on the border of Ecuador with Colombia

“The global economic impact of violence is defined as the expenditure and economic effects related to containing, preventing, and coping with the consequences of violence. The budget includes the direct and indirect expenses of violence, as well as an economic multiplier”, they say.

This report also emphasizes that Colombia experienced a deterioration in its political stability as a result of «social unrest» and political polarization ahead of the presidential elections in May 2022. «The tensions related to the deep divisions within Colombian society they were maintained even after the election of the current president Gustavo Petro”, the document specifies.

Colombia, a country that is home to more than 1.7 million displaced persons and Venezuelan immigrants, continues to face violence from armed groups of dissidents and drug trafficking mafias, who especially disappear communities that have been historically violated: Afro, indigenous and the peasants.

The report also mentions that, in all of South America, Ecuador was the country that saw its index deteriorate the most on average, especially due to the wave of drug violence that has been plaguing the country for months.

“Ecuador experienced the largest deterioration in the overall score, due to increases in violent crime and conflict deaths. Ecuador’s overall score deteriorated by 6.9 percent,» the report said.

And he adds: «Cases of violence have become more frequent in Ecuador in the last year due to the rise in power and prominence of organized crime groups, and a subsequent increase in homicides.»

Regarding the case of South America, at a general level, the report says that this region experienced a slight deterioration in tranquility in 2023.

“The average level of peace in South America increased by 0.33 percent over last year, with three countries registering improvements and eight recording deteriorations. The deterioration of tranquility in the region was driven by the increase in internal conflicts, violent demonstrations and the rate of imprisonment, ”he pointed out.

How is the global outlook?

Overall, the report also reveals that global deaths from conflict were at the highest levels of the century last year, mainly due to the wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia.

According to the investigation, deaths caused by wars have warned 96 percent compared to 2021, with 238,000 missing.

“Conflict levels in 2022 have been the worst since the Rwandan genocide in 1994”
, commented to EFE Steven Killelea, founder of IEP. This is partly because «wars today are unwinnable: with a resilient and adequately armed civilian population, armies cannot easily rouse the population, conflict becomes endemic,» he added.

Conflict levels in 2022 have been the worst since the Rwandan genocide in 1994

A total of 79 countries have experienced a widespread increase in their seizure levels, most notably Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Israel and South Africa. The wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia have caused the highest number of deaths in 2022, with some 83,000 and 100,000 victims as a result of the conflict, respectively.

Faced with this scenario, Killelea affirmed that «new ways of achieving peace need to be found, because these conflicts do not end and the economic cost is enormous.»

«Technological innovation put to military use, like drones or even social media, are changing the way war is waged. In the case of Ukraine, the government collects live, raw intelligence from social media,» he said.

The most «peaceful» countries, the report shows, are Iceland, Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand, while Spain occupies number 32. For the sixth consecutive year, Afghanistan is the least peaceful country, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

*With Efe