Is the US a Peaceful Country?

Recent political violence in America has shocked the world, and strained national unity in the USA. In the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) the USA ranked only 114 of 163 countries.

The GPI is released each year by Vision of Humanity, a project by the Institute for Economics and Peace, and the index measures negative peace, which is the absence of, or fear of, violence.

"It's across three major domains - so we look at militarization, levels of ongoing conflict, and safety and security in society," said Michelle Breslauer from the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Positive peace, on the other hand, is about what builds a peaceful society, such as the 8 pillars of peace.

"Positive peace looks at things like well-functioning government, a sound business environment, equitable distribution of resources, high levels of human capital, acceptance for the rights of others, free flow of information, low levels of corruption," Ms Breslauer said. It also includes good relations with neighboring countries.

"And the countries that are strong in all of them tend to be the most peaceful," she said.

What could help build peace in the USA?

"We see greater polarization in the media," Ms Breslauer said, "so that's an area to work on - access for journalists and whistle-blowers to cover issues without fear of prosecution."

"And then when we think about for instance, the acceptance of the rights of others, how do we deal with difference? With migration, with immigration issues? With economic stability too, across different groups," she said.

"These are all areas that are much more localized and easier to access than the larger political, military, conversation, and will actually build the societal resilience and cohesion that we need in the United States.”

"One of the things I think we have gotten out of the habit of supporting is local government, and the relationship between local civil society and local government,” Marc L. Schneider, from Human Rights Initiative, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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