South Africa had the fourth highest overall improvement in peacefulness in the 2020 Global Peace Index. Its overall score improved by 3.4%, which saw it rise three places to be ranked 123rd overall, with improvements in all three GPI domains. However, despite this improvement, South Africa still faces many challenges to peace, especially in the Safety and Security domain. In particular, it has a very high homicide rate, and very high levels of violent crime.
South Africa’s biggest improvement was in the political terror scale indicator, where its score moved from a four to a three. This suggests that while political violence and human rights abuses in the country remain common, the scope and intensity of these abuses has been reduced. South Africa’s incarceration rate also improved, falling from 286 to 275 prisoners per 100,000 people.
South Africa has the fourth highest incarceration rate in sub-Saharan Africa, ahead of only Namibia, Rwanda, and Eritrea. South Africa improved on several indicators in the Militarisation domain. Its commitment to timely UN peacekeeping funding improved, and the number of both weapons imports and weapons exports fell. However, South Africa is still the largest weapons exporter per capita in the sub-Saharan region, and is ranked 30th for per capita weapons exports overall.