Going against the trend of increasing conflict around the world, some countries are becoming more peaceful.

The 2024 Global Peace Index (GPI) reveals the five countries which showed the largest improvements in their levels of peacefulness, despite the deterioration in global peacefulness. These countries are El Salvador, Nicaragua, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, and Myanmar (despite ongoing internal conflict). Examining the various domains, trends, and indicators that measure peacefulness reveals the factors behind the improvements in peacefulness experienced by these countries. 

El Salvador’s resounding transformation towards peace 

El Salvador experienced the largest improvement in peace in the 2024 GP, with its overall GPI score increasing by 8.87 per cent, reaching its highest ranking since 2008 at 107th place. This marks the country’s first improvement in peacefulness in four years. This momentum shift is largely driven by a nation-wide crackdown on organised crime instigated by President Nayib Bukele, dramatically improving measures of peacefulness in the Central American state.  

El Salvador saw significant improvements in the Ongoing Conflict, and Safety and Security domains. The declared state of emergency allowed the government to arrest and detain over 60,000 gang members and suspected gang members, which led to a dramatic reduction in the homicide rate and perceptions of criminality. The country’s homicide rate fell to less than eight per 100,000 in 2023, compared to over 84 per 100,000 in 2017. Similarly, just 11 per cent of people recorded that they did not feel safe in their neighbourhood or city, compared to 70 per cent in 2017.  In 2023, El Salvador recorded zero deaths from internal conflict, while recording large improvements in the political instability, violent demonstrations, and violent crime indicators. Bukele’s approach has inspired similar crackdown attempts in the broader region, including in Ecuador, a state similarly challenged by organised crime. 

Although these policies have been effective in reducing violence, they have drawn criticism from observers concerned with the impact on civil liberties and possibility of unjust arrests. The country has the highest incarceration rate in the world with an estimated one per cent of the population incarcerated as of early 2024.

The UAE’s path to peacefulness 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recorded the second largest improvement in peacefulness in the 2024 GPI. Its overall score improved by six per cent, leading to a 31-place rise in its ranking to 53rd position. Notably, the UAE demonstrated improvements in all three GPI domains of Ongoing Conflict, Safety and Security, and Militarisation. The UAE was the 4th most peaceful state in the MENA region, improving from its 5th place regional rank in the 2023 GPI.  

The most substantial improvement in the UAE’s peacefulness was seen in the Ongoing Conflict domain, due to reductions in deaths from internal conflict and improvements in neighbouring country relations. The UAE saw marked improvements in diplomatic and commercial relations with Iran and Türkiye, and greater engagement with East Africa and South Asia.  

Despite a historical trend of high military expenditure and exportation (per capita), the UAE recorded a significant improvement in the Militarisation domain, driven by a 20 per cent improvement in the weapons export indicator and a seven per cent improvement in weapons imports.  While these trends improved in the UAE, the same indicators saw significant deterioration in its regional partner Türkiye who has become a significant regional arms exporter.  

Obstacles and opportunities in Nicaragua 

In the 2024 GPI, Nicaragua recorded the third largest improvement in peacefulness, climbing 12 places to 113th. Nicaragua’s overall GPI score improved by six per cent, led by substantial improvements in the Safety and Security domain which improved by 9.7 per cent. Within this domain, the political instability, violent crime, and violent demonstrations indicators saw the greatest positive change. Nicaragua’s improvements on these indicators in 2023 has been a function of the Ortega government’s tight control over civil society, law enforcement, and the judiciary. This control has reduced civil unrest, and in turn caused improvements in the frequency of violent crime and violent demonstrations. 

These improvements do come with concerns over state repression, particularly in the treatment of political dissidents and journalists. This has influenced Nicaragua’s Political Terror Scale score, which has seen continual deterioration for the past two decades.  Nicaragua has also seen a deterioration in its Political Terror Scale score, a trend that has continued steadily for the past two decades. This is linked to concerns over state repression, particularly in the treatment of political dissidents and journalists.  

Greece: pathway to a peaceful future 

Greece showcased a substantial improvement in peacefulness, rising 17 places to 40th in the 2024 GPI. The country saw the most improvement in the Ongoing conflict domain, with a smaller improvement in the Safety and Security domain.  

Greece saw the most significant improvement in the intensity of internal conflict indicator, driven by the improvement in political satisfaction and reduced levels of polarisation. The 2023 re-election of a majority New Democracy government for a second consecutive term reflects improvements in the country’s political stability and public satisfaction in the political class.  

The country also made notable progress in the neighbouring countries relations indicator, reducing political tensions with Türkiye, with new initiatives aiding economic ties through trade, investment and tourism. This improved relationship was clearly shown in the Greek government’s rapid response to Türkiye’s devastating earthquake in February 2023, signaling an encouraging turnaround in bilateral relations. 


Myanmar’s improvements despite ongoing internal conflict

Myanmar experienced the fifth largest improvement in peacefulness in the 2024 GPI and the largest improvement in the Asia pacific region, with a 14.5 per cent improvement in overall score. Despite this progress, the country remains as one of the least peaceful countries in the world, due to its ongoing internal conflict. Myanmar placed 148th in the 2024 GPI, and ranked 18th in the Asia-Pacific region, just ahead of last-placed North Korea.  

Myanmar saw improvements to the Safety and Security domain, while experiencing deteriorations in the Militarisation and Ongoing Conflict domains. The improvements to peacefulness were driven by improvements in homicide rate and perceptions of criminality. The large drop in the homicide rate is largely due to deaths relating to internal conflict no longer being classified as homicides, returning the homicide rate to pre-coup levels. Additionally, perceptions of criminality improved, with 54% of the population stating that they did not feel safe in their neighbourhood or city, compared to 67% in the prior year.  

Myanmar has experienced ongoing conflict since the 2021 military coup, between the military junta and armed rebel groups. This has had a devastating impact on the country, with over 3,000 deaths from internal conflict recorded in 2023.  Myanmar also experienced high levels of internal repression and human rights violations, as measured by the Political Terror scale. Despite the significant strides made by armed rebel groups who now control an estimated 40 per cent of the country, victory for either side remains uncertain. 

— Download the Global Peace Index 2024 press release here.
— Request a media interview here.
— View the Global Peace Index 2024 interactive map here.



Vision of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.