Global peace deteriorated at historic rate in 2023

An independent think tank compared levels of peacefulness across 163 nation-states for its annual Global Peace Index.
Displaced Palestinian women walk past destroyed buildings in Gaza.

Global levels of peace deteriorated at historic rates in 2023/24, according to new data from the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP).

The independent think tank compared levels of peacefulness across 163 nation-states for its annual Global Peace Index.

It found global conflicts reached their highest rate since World War II last year. More than 100 states strengthened their militaries in 2023/24, IEP also found.

Here’s what you need to know.


The Global Peace Index (GPI) has tracked levels of peace since 2008.

It uses 23 indicators to analyse a nation-state’s involvement in conflict, and quantifies peace by examining statistics like rates of violence and levels of incarceration.

Countries receive a score for each measure. Michael Collins from the IEP told TDA “the most peaceful” states have the “lowest” scores.


Iceland ranked the most peaceful country for the 16th year in a row, followed by Ireland and Austria. Europe was the most peaceful region despite a record increase in military spending.

The Middle East and North Africa region was the least peaceful.

Over the last year, levels of peace trended downwards in 97 states, the highest number to do so in the 16 years the GPI has run.

Australia ranked 19th behind Asia-Pacific neighbours New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.

Cost of war

Human Cost: 162,000 people died in conflict in 2023. Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and Russia’s war with Ukraine accounted for most of these deaths.

110 million people were internally displaced or became refugees during the reporting period.

Financial Cost: In 2023, war cost the global economy $US19.1 trillion ($AU28.5t), about $US2,380 ($AU3,600) per person.

Military spending

According to the GPI, global military spending reached a combined total of $US8.4 trillion.

“Peacekeeping” spending totalled $US49.6 billion.

Peacekeeping or peace-building contributions were made primarily through UN frameworks.

Collins said major conflicts were likely to increase over the next year, “unless anything radically changes on the world stage.”


65 countries recorded improved levels of peacefulness in this year’s Global Peace Index.

Central American country El Salvador reported the largest improvement in peacefulness.

Now ranked 107th, the country improved by 21 places and received its best score since 2008.

The UAE, Greece, and Nicaragua were also among the countries where levels of peacefulness had their biggest increase in the past year.

Call for action

IEP founder Steve Killelea said governments and businesses must intensify their efforts to prevent major conflicts.

“We are witnessing a record number of conflicts, a rise in militarisation, and heightened international strategic competition… It’s been 80 years since the end of WWII, and the current crises underscore the urgency for world leaders to commit to investing in resolving these conflicts,” Killea said.

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