One Nation on Top of the World

New Zealand: the Most Peaceful Country on Earth

Looking for a peaceful life? Then New Zealand is officially the best place to be, according to 2009’s Global Peace Index. Out of 144 countries surveyed, it topped the table as the most peaceful on earth.

Founded by Steve Killelea, the Global Peace Index has won the support of an influential and distinguished group, many of whom are themselves dedicated to the promotion of global peace, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson.

Every year, a panel of international experts award points around 25 indicators, such as a country’s sum total of internal conflicts, its respect for human rights, degrees of democracy, transparency and education. New Zealand ranked first due to a number of factors, including its low level of violent crime, amicable foreign policy, restrictions on weapons and low level of military expenditure.

‘Because they work better with others, peaceful nations can constructively solve some of our most pressing economic, social and environmental problems,’ said Clyde McConaghy, who co-produced the Index. ‘Indeed, peace is the prerequisite to helping solve major challenges, such as food and water scarcity, decreasing biodiversity and climate change.’

New Zealand’s reputation and its firm anti-nuclear stance were also highlighted at the opening of the World March for Peace’. The country’s capital, Wellington, hosted the launch, before the procession set off through 90 countries.

‘We chose New Zealand as the starting point because they were the very first country to grant women the right to vote, to legally ban nuclear weapons and the first and only nation to officially establish a Minister for Disarmament,’ says Rafael de la Rubia, World Without Wars founder and spokesperson for the March.

The country’s achievements have also led to other accolades this year, making it a truly multi-award-winning nation. Britain recently voted it as a favourite long-haul destination in The Guardian Readers’ Travel Awards, while Ireland named it best adventure holiday. Wellington has also been designated the best capital city to live in, while Auckland University was officially ranked by The Times as the seventh best educational facility in the world. And more recently, New Zealand-born campaigner Alyn Ware was awarded the prestigious Right Livelihood Award ñ also called the Alternative Nobel Prize’. The judges announced that he had won in recognition of his 25 year-long tireless dedication to the pursuit of peace.

A director of the Peace Foundation, in Wellington, Alyn believes that if New Zealand can make itself nuclear-free so quickly, other countries could follow suit just as easily. His recently drafted treaty on the abolition of nuclear weapons for the United Nations is being circulated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

A former primary school teacher, Alyn says that solving playground squabbles prepared him for a life in international peace relations. ‘Some people are shout-in-the-street types. I’m the softly-softly type. When I’m with children, I try and sit down with them and not lecture them. The same approach applies for politicians and congressman,’ he said.

‘My teaching was thus good training for all my peace and disarmament work. So, when I am back in the classroom, I can help students see that the ideas and approaches they are using to solve their own conflicts, are similar to the ideas and approaches we use at the United Nations to solve international conflicts.’

Top 10 Most Peaceful Nations

1 New Zealand
2 Denmark
3 Norway
4 Iceland
5 Austria
6 Sweden
7 Japan
8 Canada
9 Finland
10 Slovenia

35 Britain
83 America

Contact: The Global Peace Index
Website: www.visionofhumanity.org
Contact: 100% Pure New Zealand
Website: www.newzealand.com

New Zealand’s Waitemata Harbour, in Auckland. In Maori, Wai te Mataa’
means the sea of sparkling waters’
Photo: © Gareth Eyres / exposure.co.nz

Story courtesy of 100% Pure New Zealand

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