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

COLOMBIA / 13 FEB 2014

The emergence of allegations made by an incarcerated drug baron that he funded the political activities of Colombia's former President…

MEXICO / 27 MAR 2013

Over a thousand vigilantes in southwest Mexico took control of a town and detained a local police chief and 12…

AYOTZINAPA / 4 SEP 2018

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto’s final report on the state of the country showed that the security crisis will be…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…