“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” . . . . . Lord Kelvin
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  • HSI Component: Peace

    Posted on November 2nd, 2009 editor0 No comments

    Do people feel safe in their homes, communities, nation, and the world? Is crime a threat? Are power groups (from foreign or domestic individual, institutional/corporate, or governmental forces) disrupting human security? Is one’s country (or a neighbour) involved in domestic or foreign conflict, conscripting community residents and spending scarce resources in disruptions – at the cost of human security at home and abroad?

    The Global Peace Index is an excellent start at characterizing a person’s peace and harmony in one’s local and global community based on freedom from external warlike behaviour of one’s country, and from domestic strife and related concerns. A “trigger-happy” society (overseas or at home) is not a secure one, and (as others have said) might become a magnet or catalyst for additional trigger-happy behaviour of various sorts. Indeed, members of the “gun lobby” in the USA have argued against bans or restrictions on gun ownership, saying that country is so unsafe that people must be able to defend their own homes with their own guns. Here’s an example. Is this not a graphic indicator of poor social fabric? (HumanSecurityIndex.org is not making a political editorial, merely a social observation.)

    HumanSecurityIndex.org also includes incarceration rates as an excellent indicator of societal strains from criminal inclinations in a society, and/or inclinations of that society to incarcerate people rather than to fundamentally solve the possible causes of behaviour that result in arrest and detention. These include the World Prison Population List and the World Pre-Trial / Remand Imprisonment List As Roy Walmsley (curator of such lists) notes, high incarceration rates can have many causes. However, in the view of several socioeconomic experts with whom HumanSecurityIndex.org has discussed this issue, abnormally high incarceration rates indicate poor human development/security in a society, and appear to be an excellent proxy for societal fabric in great need of repair. Walmsley has given thoughtful reviews of issues and concerns about high and generally increasing incarceration rates. Indeed, the apparent geographic, temporal, and demographic relationships between increasing income inequality (e.g. GINI coefficient values) and increasing incarceration rates over the past two decades could make a valuable study.

    Janet Billson has an interesting discussion of well-being from a women’s standpoint. She has suggested that domestic violence would be an invaluable, though very challenging, phenomenon to characterize through some form of indicator. HumanSecurityIndex.org would be tempted to place such an indicator in this grouping on peacefulness, though some might argue that domestic violence is a gender – or even primarily a women’s issue. However, if such an indicator were to actually appear, its specific characteristics would be the best guide to its possible grouping with other constituent indicators of a Social Fabric Index or a Human Security Index.