The Global Peace Index (GPI) rankings have been released. Of 121 countries studied by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on the basis of data received from various sources, by using 24 indicators including military expenditure, access to arms, level of violence, corruption, human rights, engagement in war, incidence of crime etc. Norway has come first as the most peaceful country, while Sri Lanka`s rank is 111. (The full list of the rankings is carried in this paper today.)
If those who are all out to confer the `failed state` status on Sri Lanka are getting ready to dance on the streets, here is some bad news for them. The US has been ranked 96 and India 109! Iraq, which the US and the UK (ranking 49th) have gone all out to democratise, has come last! Interestingly, Cuba and China have come 59th and 60th respectively! Iran is in the exalted company of its bete noire, the US, occupying the 97th slot on the list.
The main reason for Sri Lanka`s GPI position is that it is battling terrorism. But for the on-going war and the attendant human rights violations, its position would have been much higher notwithstanding the other negative factors such as corruption. War has cost this country dearly in many respects, as evident from human rights violations, the high incidence of crime, poor economic performance and the increasing desensitisation of society to violence.
Who created terrorism here and who is sponsoring it at present? It is the countries responsible for those crimes that must take the bigger share of the blame for Sri Lanka`s poor GPI ranking.
India fathered Sri Lanka`s terrorism and created her protracted war. The UK allows Lanka`s terrorism to be coordinated from the British soil, despite a ban. Some British parliamentarians have become putty in the hands of Sri Lanka`s terrorists. Norway, which is the most peaceful country according to the GPI, sponsors Sri Lanka`s terrorism by allowing its activists to operate freely on her soil and raise funds for their violent project. The same goes for other Scandinavian countries, which have secured impressive GPI rankings.
Where Sri Lanka`s terrorism is concerned, the US position is, to use a phrase that Churchill famously used to describe Russia, `a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.` The US wants terrorism wiped out wherever it manifests itself. It is supporting Israel`s military offensives against Hezbollah and has thrown its weight behind the Lebanese government to help it keep the Islamic insurgents at bay. It assists Colombia to the hilt in fighting FARC guerrillas and is unleashing hell on Afghanistan and Iraq in search of terrorists. But, in Sri Lanka, the Eagle is cooing like a dove!
The GPI should have `sponsoring terrorism` as an indicator in determining the peacefulness of a country. Such a criterion is of great import as terrorism is the biggest threat to global peace. How can a country be considered `peaceful`, if it helps nurture violence elsewhere? If that indicator was ever adopted, what would happen to the GPI ranking of Norway, which allows funds to be collected on its soil for bombs that kill hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka?
The EIU should thoroughly examine the background of the nations it studies before ranking them, without relying on statistics alone. Recently, when the Maldivian Coast Guard intercepted an Indian vessel commandeered by Sri Lanka`s terrorists with a consignment of arms on board, a foreign embassy in Colombo went all out to secure its release, out of its concern for the pirates, but in vain. Shouldn`t such instances be thoroughly investigated before countries are given GPI rankings? It is not only among people that one finds Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes. States, too, behave in a similar manner. In judging the peacefulness of a country, how it relates to the outside world should also be taken into consideration. Similarly, a complete list of the organisations, on whose information the GPI is based, should be made public. Their background, too, needs to be studied.
It is ironical that some members of the international community giving Sri Lanka gratuitous advice on conflict resolution have got lower GPI rankings. Having failed to be `peaceful` themselves, how can they guide Sri Lanka along the path to peace? Isn`t what we are witnessing a case of the blind leading the blind?
It is not being argued that Sri Lanka shouldn`t strive to achieve a higher GPI ranking on its own. Action needs to be taken to obviate human rights violations, combat crime, curb corruption etc.
Let the GPI be an eye opener!