WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- Collectively the world spent $13.6 billion to fund violence and conflict in 2015 amid growing political instability and terror attacks, according to a new report.
The 2016 Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics & Peace ranks 163 countries and territories according to their level of peacefulness.
"The world has become slightly less peaceful compared to the prior year and the gap between the most and least peaceful nations continues to widen," the institute said in a statement. "More countries improved than deteriorated, but the size of the deterioration outweighed the improvement."
The index reports that 81 countries became more peaceful, while 79 countries became less peaceful. Panama, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Mauritania saw the highest increase in peace, while peace deteriorated the most in Yemen, Ukraine, Turkey, Libya and Bahrain.
The most peaceful countries, in order, are Iceland, Denmark and Austria, while the least peaceful countries are Syria, South Sudan and Iraq.
Political instability and terrorism have driven the deterioration of peace. The global decrease of peace within the past decade has largely been driven by escalating conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East.
Many countries have seen record-high levels of peacefulness, but that achievement is offset by the bottom 20 countries that have become less peaceful -- increasing global peace inequality.
"Terrorism is at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25-year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people has reached a level not seen in 60 years," the institute writes. "These dynamics are intertwined and stem from a small number of countries, demonstrating the global repercussions of breakdowns in peacefulness."
The institute reports that funding for United Nations peacekeeping operations is at an all-time high -- $15 billion -- which has helped increase global peace. The $13.6 trillion spent on violence and conflict constitutes a 13.3 percent expenditure of global gross domestic product.
"Commitments to peacekeeping are improving, but our global investment in peacebuilding and peacekeeping is less than 2 percent of the economic impact of armed conflict," the institute adds.