Understanding exactly what world peace is can stump the brainiest of researchers. The Aussie Institute of Economics and Peace has attempted to create an index to demonstrate how the nations of the world rank in terms of peacefulness. Their list is telling: did you know that northern countries rank as more likely to be peaceful? Perhaps it’s because anyone willing to work hard enough to brave the extreme cold of the Arctic subzero temperatures is too hardworking to start much trouble. Maybe it’s because people in such cold climates rely more on each other, creating camaraderie that’s unheard of in comfortable climates.
Or perhaps it’s partly because certain countries that ranked well on the peace index rely on other “less-peaceful” powers, like the U.S., for security. Since the Global Peace Index (GPI) considers a strong military to be a detriment to peacefulness, it’s difficult to tell exactly just which countries are peaceful because they are inherently peaceful, and which are quiet because they stay below the radar under a blanket of protection by larger entities. Regardless of why they scored high on the list of “Least Likely to Make Waves,” here are the winners:
10. Norway: They’ve Learned to Let It Go
If Norway has a philosophy, it is that grace and mercy trumps vengeful punishment. The prison system in Norway has, by far, the lowest reoffending rate for prisoners in Europe. Compare their 30% reoffender rate to certain prison systems in Britain and elsewhere with rates of 70%, and you get the picture what an achievement that is. Incredibly, the philosophy that has yielded such great results is that prisoners should be treated like people, not animals. At the Bastoy island prison, inmates shop on campus for their own food; they cook, clean, work, and enjoy life as though they were “real people.” For Norwegians, the act of incarceration is enough. According to governor Arne Nilsen, “In closed prisons we keep them locked up for some years and then let them back out, not having had any real responsibility for working or cooking. In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is that you lose your freedom. If we treat people like animals when they are in prison they are likely to behave like animals. Here we pay attention to you as human beings.”
9. Belgium: Unwaveringly Neutral
As the founding member of the European Union and the host of NATO, Belgium’s peace loving reputation goes way back. European entrenchment during World War I was caused by Germany’s underestimation of Belgium’s staunch determination not to be drawn into the war. In World War II, the fall of France was a direct result of France’s overconfidence that Belgium’s neutrality would again serve as a buffer against the Germans. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler ignored Belgium’s wishes and plowed through anyway. Although peace wasn’t possible then, it reinforced the belief of many Belgians that war should be avoided at all costs, which still lives on today.