Steve Killelea's Peace Initiative Featured

Steve Killelea's Peace Initiative Photograph courtesy of the Institute for Economics and Peace

Institute for Economics and Peace Founder: Steve Killelea

Measuring Peace with the Global Peace Index

Steve Killelea is the creative force behind the Global Peace Index, the world’s leading measure of peacefulness, endorsed by the Dalai Lama and Jimmy Carter. Killelea is the Australian founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an international think-tank with offices in Sydney, Mexico City, The Hague and Brussels. IEP is dedicated to building a greater understanding of the interconnection between peace, business and economics, with emphasis on the economic benefits of peace. An accomplished high-tech entrepreneur, Killelea is at the forefront of philanthropic activities focused on sustainable development and peace. In 2000, he established The Charitable Foundation (TCF), which specializes in working with the world’s poorest communities in East and Central Africa and parts of Asia. TCF has substantially impacted the lives of over 2.3 million people. Killelea’s founding of IEP was recognized as one of the 50 most impactful philanthropic gifts in Australia’s history. In 2010, he was honored as Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the global peace movement and his provision of humanitarian aid to the developing world. In 2013, Killelea was nominated one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Armed Violence Reduction” by the UK group Action on Armed Violence. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie talked with Steve Killelea about how he defines peace and the Global Peace Index.

TJ: Can you tell us about your career?
I invented a couple of computer programs, two in particular. The first one ended up with NASDAQ. The second one is Integrated Research, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. It’s a global business and it’s earning revenue from about 60 different countries. Twenty-five years ago, I started to get involved in developmental aid, so I set up a family foundation called The Charitable Foundation, which has a lot of projects around the world — about 130 projects now. I think it was over a decade ago now in Africa, northeast Kivu to be precise, I started to wonder about the most peaceful nations in the world and I couldn’t find anything on it. That’s how the Global Peace Index was born. A simple businessman such as myself was just walking through Africa thinking, “What’s the most peaceful nation in the world?” and [no one ever] really mentioned it. So I think the Global Peace Index is groundbreaking in the sense that it initially gave the ability to measure peacefulness in the world.

TJ: How do you define peace?
Well, there are many different definitions of peace. The conclusion we came to — the definition used for peace is dependent on how you want to use it.

TJ: And what’s the mission of the institute?
The mission of it is to build metrics to measure peace, to be able to determine what creates and sustains peaceful societies and to ascribe an economic value to change.

TJ: Does it offer educational programs?
For a long time we’ve had ambassador programs where we train people on our research. Recently, we launched the Positive Peace Academy, which is an online short course available to anyone interested in what creates peaceful societies. For the last few years, we’ve taken our Positive Peace workshops around the world to places like North Africa, Thailand, Uganda and taught emerging community leaders about the Positive Peace model.

TJ: What have been the most challenging aspects of developing the Global Peace Index?
The more challenging aspects relate to initially coming up with a clear definition of peace and being able to find metrics which will make us capable of measuring it. We cover 163 countries, which is about 99.7% of the population of the world, so getting harmonized global datasets for those 163 countries and trying to fill data gaps is where the real challenges were

TJ: Do you think the world can ever truly achieve world peace?
KILLELEA: Well, it depends on what one uses as a definition of world peace. There will [always be] one crazy person in the world who would hurt or maim another person. So we can say a definitive “no.” Is it possible to have a world where we don’t have major conflicts going on? It is possible, but we don’t have it with the current governments in creating peace.

TJ: What are the major projects that your organization is working on at this very moment?
We’re working on a number of different things. We’re currently looking at the relationship between resilience and peaceful societies, and what one can see from that is that the peaceful societies are sort of adaptable. When hit with external shocks, they’re resilient, so they have the ability to adjust and adapt to it. tj

The complete article can be found in Issue #279 of the Tokyo Journal.

Written By:

Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor and Executive Editor. He currently serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.


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