Peace in Brazil in the Lead up to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics

The Olympic Games are due to start in August 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This will be the first South American country to host the games, but the host is facing economic recession, political unrest and the threat of a Zika virus epidemic.

Levels of peace in Brazil in previous years have been unstable according to consecutive annual Global Peace Index reports. The Global Peace Index measures the state of peace in 162 countries according to 23 indicators and is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The index gauges’ global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation.

Brazil experienced its highest peace ranking in 2011, after three years of improvements from 2008. However, levels of peace have been slowly deteriorating since 2011, reaching an all-time low in last years’ 2015 Global Peace Index, ranking 101 out of 162 countries.

The decrease in peacefulness has been attributed to deteriorating political stability, increased likelihood of violent demonstrations and rise in the perceived criminality in society. Brazil has been affected by economic stagnation and rising inflation, which has triggered social discontent. Civil unrest saw over two million people take to the streets in 2013 and 2014, to protest Brazil’s sprawling corruption problem in the lead up to the 2014 Football World Cup.

On top of this, Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, is currently facing impeachment charges.  The country is now under the leadership of interim President Michael Temer who, along with several members of his all-male cabinet, is involved in a large and ongoing corruption scandal. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace 2015 Positive Peace report, high levels of corruption can misdirect resources, compound inequities and undermine trust throughout society. The resulting inequities can lead to civil unrest and in extreme situations can be the catalyst for more serious violence. Brazil saw an improvement in the Control of corruption indicator between 2005 through 2011 but has been deteriorating between 2011 and 2015. Managing corruption is one of the most important factors for peaceful societies.

Organisers are sceptical as to whether the current political climate will have any direct effect on the approaching games, with the vast majority of the park itself completed. At a time when many countries embrace the opportunity to display national unity and stability Brazil has found itself in dire circumstances.

The 2016 Global Peace Index will analyse Brazil’s trends in peace up to and including 2015, offering an assessment of the impact that corruption, the lack of well-functioning government and civil unrest has had on the country’s peacefulness. These factors are some of the key pillars of peace recognised as enablers for a well-functioning, sustainably peaceful society. The Institute for Economics and Peace will release the 2016 annual Global Peace Index on June 8th.  

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