NZ World’s Most Peaceful Country, Again

New Zealand is the world’s most peaceful nation, topping the “Global Peace Index” (GPI) for the second year running. The fourth annual GPI has been compiled by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank that looks at the relationship between economic development, business and peace In their latest index, the think tank suggests the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year.

New Zealand went nuclear free in the 1980s. And others, who would become important customers of this country’s products and services, quietly noticed our forward-thinking approach and bravery.

Kiwis have become very modest about this achievement. It’s no mean feat for a tiny country to stand up to the greatest power on the planet. But tall poppy syndrome must be resisted. We have almost unique status in putting nuclear disarmament right up there on our list of national priorities – a generation ahead of many. It’s real evidence that we are working for, and taking risks for our clean and green badge through global leadership.

Many local authorities worldwide have declared themselves “nuclear-free”. However, this label is largely symbolic, since most local authorities would be powerless to stop the construction of a nuclear plant if one was planned for the area. In the case of New Zealand its status as a nuclear-free zone is not symbolic but enshrined in the nation’s legislation. New Zealand was the first Western-allied nation to legislate towards a nuclear free zone, effectively renouncing the nuclear deterrent… New Zealand’s three decade anti-nuclear campaign is the only successful movement of its type in the world which resulted in the nation’s nuclear-free zone status being enshrined in legislation. (Wikipedia)

During the Eco Dawn a common reaction from normal people to green activities was the fear of powerlessness of individual action. “Even if I make an effort, I’m just one person, and my actions won’t make any difference to the global situation” was a common rationalisation for sitting on one’s hands. Interestingly, we don’t hear it so much these days. People have come to realise that consistent and collective green action over time can have an impact.

A generation since the Rainbow Warrior bombing, as Obama starts to dream of the possibility of nuclear disarmament, New Zealand remains staunchly nuclear free. Through various Governments lead by either Labour or National, it continually polls as an issue that Kiwis are non-negotiable on. We do have a legitimate claim to being a clean and green leader. It is not only something that we have inherited by good luck. We would do well to shout more about our early-adopter role in a potentially nuclear weapons-free world. Perhaps the time is now right for others to listen.

This work, and more like it both in terms of internal and foreign affairs, helped New Zealand scoop the top slot in the 2009 & 2010 Global Peace Index. The index is developed from 23 indicators of internal and external measures of peacefulness.

Terrorism and other new forms of conflict and strife seem to be growing globally. Therefore, being the world’s most peaceful country is a very handy accolade indeed for a nation in which tourism is a vital industry. We couldn’t hope for better reinforcement of Green Brand New Zealand. But then again, we’ve worked hard and made sacrifices for it.