Education to Promote Peace

At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs seek to strengthen universal peace, foster inclusive societies, and provide educational services and opportunities for all. Education, Goal 4 of the SDGs, is not only a key tool for promoting peace, social justice, human rights, and democracy, it also promotes knowledge and attitudes that will help people to prevent and resolve conflict peacefully.

While many children worldwide dream of education and peace in their nation, the effect of violence and conflict have forced millions of children out of school. Nearly 250 million children live in regions and nations affected by fragility and violent conflict. According to a new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the world became even less peaceful over the past decade.

The IEP annual Global Peace Index measures the state of peace in 163 independent states and territories (covering 99.6% of the world’s population). The index ranks nations according to 23 qualitative and quantitative indictors of peace.

The Index reveals that the worsening conflict in the Middle East, the increase in deaths from terrorist incidents, and the lack of sustainable solutions to the refugee crises have all contributed to the world being less peaceful in 2016 than it was in 2015. Overall, 79 countries became less peaceful and 81 countries became more peaceful in the past year.

Although many countries are at record high levels of peacefulness, the bottom 20 countries have progressively become less peaceful, and only 10 nations (Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Vietnam) are completely free of conflict, creating a global peace inequality gap. Iceland kept its place as the most peaceful nation, followed by Denmark and Australia, while Syria once again ranked as the least peaceful nation.

In 2015, world leaders made a commitment to invest in peace, justice, institutions, and educational services through the SDGs, which are all cornerstones for a peaceful society. Despite this commitment, the total global investment in peace building and peacekeeping is less than 2% of the economic impact of armed conflicts.

A report by UNICEF shows that the likelihood of violent conflict doubles in nations with a high level of inequality in education. Therefore, it is essential to invest in education in order to meet the SDG targets, and to respond to the needs of children and communities in crises to ensure peace for generations to come.

For more information:

Institute for Economics and Peace. (2016). Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace, Its Causes and Its Economic Value, Vision of Humanity. Retrieved from

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

UNICEF. (2015) Does Horizontal Education Inequality Lead to Violent Conflict? FHI360, UNCIEF. Download the report here.

Anne Bauer