South Africa ranks 123 out of 163 on the 2020 Global Peace Index

South Africa has a murder rate worse than most countries, a study says.
South Africa has a murder rate worse than most countries, a study says.
  • South Africa ranked 123 out of 163 in Global Peace Index (GPI).
  • Indicators of safety and security are an issue in the country.
  • The murder rate is "almost four time higher than the regional average".

The 2020 Global Peace Index (GPI) released by the  Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) has ranked South Africa 123 out of 163.

The report tracks and ranks the status of peace in 163 independent states and territories across the world, noting where conflict is rising and falling, and the factors that are influencing change.

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"The 14th edition of the annual Global Peace Index [GPI] report, the world's leading measure of global peacefulness, reveals that in 2020 the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth time in 12 years. Overall, 81 countries improved in peacefulness in the 2020 report, while 80 deteriorated," the  GPI reveals.

With respect to South Africa, the index highlighted the following:

  • Global peacefulness continues to deteriorate, with only two of the nine regions in the world becoming more peaceful during 2019.
  • Covid-19 has the potential to undo years of socio-economic development, exacerbate humanitarian crises and aggravate unrest and conflict with its impact already seen in worsening US-China relations and civil unrest across the world.  
  • South Africa ranks 123 out of 163 countries when it comes to state of peace.
  • Indicators of safety and security are an issue in South Africa. It performs particularly poorly on the murder rate which is the sixth highest in the world and the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa, ahead of only Lesotho. The average homicide rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 9.1 per 100 000, whereas the homicide rate in South Africa is 35.9, almost four times higher than the regional average.
  • In terms of economic preconditions, South Africa operates with a high unemployment rate (27%). This is the key factor reducing the country's rank in economic preconditions. In all three other factors, South Africa performs remarkably well, having low tax burdens (28.6% of GDP), low dependency on international trade (imports equalling 60% of GDP) and having low outstanding central government debt (53% of GDP).

In addition, the GPI also looked at the impact of the coronavirus on the globe, finding the "economic impact of Covid-19 will negatively affect political stability, international relations, conflict, civil rights and violence, undoing many years of socio-economic development".

"The fundamental tensions of the past decade around conflict, environmental pressures and socio-economic strife remain.

"It's likely that the economic impact of Covid-19 will magnify these tensions by increasing unemployment, widening inequality and worsening labour conditions - creating alienation from the political system and increasing civil unrest. We therefore find ourselves at a critical juncture," entrepreneur Steve Killelea said.


Special research by the IEP also found Covid-19 was negatively impacting peace across the world, with nations expected to become "increasingly polarised in their ability to maintain peace and security".

"This reflects the virus' potential to undo years of socio-economic development, exacerbate humanitarian crises, and aggravate and encourage unrest and conflict.   "The IEP identifies the economic impact of lockdowns as a significant threat to peace. Reductions in international aid are expected as OEDC economies contract, further destabilising fragile and conflict-affected countries, including Liberia, Afghanistan and South Sudan," the IEP said.

This is the 14th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI),which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the GPI is the world's leading measure of global peacefulness. 

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