June 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka has shown a significant improvement in the Global Peace Index (GPI) for 2017 jumping 17 notches to rank 80th out of 163 countries with a global score of 2.019.
According to the Global Peace Index 2017 prepared by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) most of the nations in the GPI became more peaceful over the last year as 93 countries improved while 68 deteriorated.
Sri Lanka's improvement in score by 0.116 points resulted in the most pronounced increase in the rankings, by 17 places to reach 80th in the index.
The GPI report noted that the ongoing consolidation of power undertaken by Sri Lanka's government led by the president, Maithripala Sirisena, has allowed it to undertake structural political reforms for improved governance, which are reflected in improved performance in the indicators measuring political instability, likelihood of violent demonstrations and political terror.
Sri Lanka benefited primarily from improvements in the Societal Safety and Security as well as Militarization domains.
In particular, financial contributions to UN peacekeeping missions improved sharply, and there were also visible gains in reducing political terror, likelihood of violent demonstrations, and to a lesser extent, political instability and the impact of terrorism, the GPI report said.
Much of this is due to a strengthening of political stability following the end of a decades-long civil war in 2009 and efforts by the ruling coalition composed of the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to address long-standing concerns among the electorate about the political and human rights landscape.
Nevertheless, ethnic tensions between the Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority remain latent, and could hinder attempts to achieve national reconciliation, the report warns.
On the downside, the number of homicides per 100,000 people rose modestly although it is still at a relatively low level, while the number of armed services personnel per 100,000 people has risen sharply to one of the highest levels in the world.
The GPI covers 99.7 percent of the world's population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources. It measures the state of peace using three thematic domains: the level of societal safety and security; the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict; and the degree of militarization.
In South Asia, Bhutan has been identified as the most peaceful country, followed by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bhutan ranks 13th, Bangladesh 84th, India 137th, Pakistan 152nd and Afghanistan 162nd.
Iceland has retained its place as the most peaceful country in the world since 2008, followed by New Zealand, Portugal, Austria and Denmark while war-ravaged Syria and Afghanistan remained at the bottom of the rankings.