My own definition of Peace is not that easy as I expected. But I will try: It is a state/status when the two parties are not taking any violent action against each other. Each party is recognized as a legitimate group (or state) and their actions are leading towards cooperation. Peace is simply the situation when the two sides aim towards themselves (not on each other).
Peace should be also the status when people are not raising arms & not fighting among themselves. But it is not easy to find this external state in period of internal/individual fighting with prejudices & stereotypes (based on religion, sexual orientation, race etc.).
Only with the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights we can work on an achievement of MDGs, generational justice and sustainable use of natural resources on a broad social basis.
I come from Slovakia. My home country is on 26th place among 158 countries with the Global peace index (GPI) = 1,590 (in 2011 it was place no. 24 among 153 countries, in 2010 it was place no. 20 among 148 countries). So let’s say that position of our state wasn’t changed, so it is stabile. I wanted to compare the position of Slovakia with other three states from “Visegrad four” group. V4 is the alliance of four Central European states – neighbors: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – they are very similar to each other in many areas and also they are cooperating together very often.
Slovak & Czech republic is used to be one coherent state until 1989 = CzechoSlovakia. Economically, socially or politically there are no big differences between these two states. So it is very interesting, that Czech Republic is on 13th place among 158 countries with the GPI = 1.396 (in 2011 Czechs took the 6th position and in 2010 the 11th. The reason could be the changes in government and political moods (from left-wing to right-wing directions).
Slovak’s southern neighbor: Hungary was in 2012 on 17th, in 2011 on 20th and in 2010 on 19th. But I guess in 2013 it will be worse because of a lot of attacks and accidents – connected to the discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, political affiliation etc.. Slovak’s northern neighbor: Poland is holding the 24th position and in comparison with previous years – it seems stabile enough (in 2011 it was number 22, in 2010 it was number 28).
Comments to Global peace index
I think that GPI reflects reality fair enough. At least in our Central European region it looks realistic. These 23 indicators to measure peacefulness of the country were set up well. But I would like to add some indicators – connected to Human Development index or Gross National Happiness index – to be sure about the quality of life and well-being of citizens in current state.
In Slovakia the most frequent kind of violence is connected to xenophoby of Slovak citizens and their verbal or physical attacks against “different” people (from ethnic group, with special needs/disabilities, LGBTQ people etc.).
The way how to establish peaceful and non-violent state of mind in my country is to be aware of all these issues/problems – to face the society problems (social exclusion, discrimination, stereotypes) through media and education. Thanks to the intercultural exchanges and human rights based & anti-biased approach in teaching/learning methods we can change a lot.
For my country: Slovakia the most relevant indicators from GPI measurement could be: access to weapons, organized conflict (internal), violent demonstrations, violent crime, political instability, political terror, deaths from conflict (internal and external). But these indicators are not relevant (yet): UN peacekeeping funding, weapons imports, displaced people, terrorist acts.
I wasn’t surprised that Iceland is on the 1st place (even if I have never been there before) and Somalia is on the last = 158st (this I can imagine a bit, because currently I am working in Kenya – Somalia’s neighbor). It is obvious that Syria is rapidly falling down to 147th place in comparison with year 2011 and the 116th position (Arab spring really changed the world a lot). On other hand: I am happy about Sri Lanka, that is flying higher and higher thanks to the end of civil war & successful development projects there (to the 103th place in comparison with year 201 and the 130th position).
Written by: Dr. Bozena Baluchova (field worker of Trnava University in Kenya),
Photo by: Pavol Markovic (development volunteer in Kenya)