HomeNewsBriefThe Trouble With Measuring Peace in Latin America
BRIEF

The Trouble With Measuring Peace in Latin America

COLOMBIA / 18 JUN 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A new report ranks Colombia and Mexico as the least peaceful nations in Latin America -- however, this definition of "peace" may not accurately reflect the state of security in the region. 

The 2015 Global Peace Index, a report (pdf) published annually by think tank the Institute for Economics and Peace, classifies Colombia as the least peaceful nation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Colombia has held this distinction every year since the GPI was first published in 2008. 

Mexico, however, has experienced a noticeable decline in peace over the past eight years, according to the GPI. From 2008 until 2010, Mexico registered "medium" levels of peace. From 2011 to 2015, Mexico has qualified as "low" on the peace index.

Listed from most to least peaceful, Colombia is ranked 146 out of 162 countries worldwide, and is closely followed by Mexico (144) and Venezuela (142). Central America's Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) all rank between 123 and 116 on the GPI. (See graph below for peace rankings of all Latin American and Caribbean countries listed by the GPI.)

The GPI measures peace around the world based on 23 indicators, which are grouped into one of three categories: militarization; domestic and international conflict; safety and security in society. The report defines peace as the absence of violence or fear of violence.

InSight Crime Analysis

The GPI's ranking system is somewhat perplexing, given that Central American countries with higher homicide rates -- namely, Honduras and El Salvador -- are considered more "peaceful" than Colombia and Mexico. Last year, both El Salvador and Honduras registered homicide rates higher than 60 per 100,000 people, more than double that of Colombia.

The GPI's methodology apparently gives more weight to countries that remain in a state of open, armed conflict and have a bigger military budget. This would explain why Colombia is consistently ranked as Latin America's least peaceful country. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Homicides

Mexico's declining peace score over the past eight years is also particularly confounding, given homicides in the country have been falling since 2011. This was also around the time murder rates began to decrease dramatically in cities such as in Tamaulipas and Ciudad Juarez, once hotspots for drug-related violence. However, Mexico's spending on defense has indeed skyrocketed, which may explain why its "peace" ranking, by the GPI's assessment, is getting worse. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MERIDA INITIATIVE / 12 OCT 2011

The alleged Iranian plot to pay the Zetas drug gang to murder a Washington ambassador sounds like the idea of…

KIDNAPPING / 31 MAR 2015

Reports of migrant kidnapping in Mexico have increased dramatically over a single year, a phenomenon that may be linked to…

MEXICO / 2 NOV 2011

According to data from the U.S. State Department, the first six months of 2011 represented the most deadly period of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…