U.N Study Shows Armed Conflicts Down 40% Since 1992




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"We knew the number of wars was coming down, because that has
been around in academic circles for a while, but particularly
surprising is how the decline in wars is reflected right
across the board in all forms of political conflict and

ABC News
October 17, 2005

U.N.: Conflicts Down 40 Pct. Since 1992

U.N. Study Shows Armed Conflicts Down 40 Percent Since 1992;
Genocide, Human Rights Abuses Down

Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - A study issued Monday paints a surprising
picture of war and peace in the 21st century: Armed conflicts
have declined by more than 40 percent since 1992, and
genocide and human rights abuses have plummeted around the

The only form of political violence that appears to be
getting worse is international terrorism a serious threat
that nonetheless kills extraordinarily few people per year
compared to wars, it said.

The first Human Security Report, financed by five
governments, said the end of the Cold War and breakup of the
Soviet Union in 1989-91 was the most important factor in the
decline in armed conflicts: It ended the East-West
ideological battle, stopped the flow of money to proxy wars
in the developing world, and most importantly allowed the
United Nations for the first time to begin to play the role
its founders intended.

"Over the past dozen years, the global security climate has
changed in dramatic, positive, but largely unheralded ways,"
the report said. "Civil wars, genocides and international
crises have all declined sharply."

Professor Andrew Mack, who directed the three-year study,
said there has been a shift away from the huge wars of the
1950s, '60s and '70s where million-strong armies faced each
other with conventional weapons.

"The average war today tends to be very small, low intensity
conflict, fought with ill-trained troops, small arms and
light weapons, often very brutal, with lots of civilians
killed but the absolute numbers of people being killed are
... much, much smaller than they were before," he said.

Armed conflicts have not only declined by more than 40
percent since 1992, but the deadliest conflicts with over
1,000 battle deaths dropped even more dramatically by 80
percent. The number of international crises, often harbingers
of war, fell by more than 70 percent between 1981 and 2001,
the report said.

Notwithstanding the genocides in Rwanda in 1994 and
Srebrenica in 1995, mass killings because of religion,
ethnicity or political beliefs plummeted by 80 percent
between the 1988 high point and 2001, it said.

The report also traced other positive changes back to the
post-World War II era.

"The average number of battle-deaths per conflict per year
the best measure of the deadliness of warfare has been
falling dramatically but unevenly since the 1950s," it said.

In 1950, the worst year, the average war killed 37,000 people
directly, Mack said. "By 2002, it was 600 an extraordinary

The postwar period also saw the longest period of peace
between the major powers in hundreds of years, and attempted
military coups have been in decline for 40 years, the study

Mack, who directs the Human Security Center at the University
of British Colombia in Vancouver, said the report relies on
major new data from the Conflict Data Program at Sweden's
Uppsala University and other sources. He said its statistics
were probably the best available, but emphasized that decent
data on wars and conflicts remained hard to obtain.

"We would never be confident about a single figure," he said.
"What we can be confident about is trends."

In looking at the reasons for the decline of conflicts, Mack
noted that most of the wars over colonialism ended by the
early 1980s and the end of the Cold War ended the tensions
between capitalism and communism. But he said the single,
most important factor was the liberation of the United

"With the Security Council no longer paralyzed by Cold War
politics, the U.N. spearheaded a veritable explosion of
conflict prevention, peacemaking and post-conflict
peace-building activities in the early 1990s," the report

Mack, who was the director of strategic planning in
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office from 1998-2001, told a
briefing that even though there were "some awful mistakes"
and many of those U.N. efforts were "disasters," there were
also some quiet successes.

A Rand Corp. study earlier this year concluded that the
United Nations was successful in 66 percent of its peace
efforts, but even the 40 percent success rate some believe is
more accurate would be an achievement considering that prior
to the 1990s "there was nothing going on at all," he said.

"We think the United Nations, despite the many failures, has
done in many ways an extraordinary job ... very often with
inadequate resources, inappropriate mandates, and with
horrible politics in the council," Mack said. "If the
politics were less horrible, the resources more adequate and
the mandates more appropriate, then I think the U.N. could do
a much better job."

The report was funded by Canada, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland
and Britain.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures

Voice of America
October 18, 2005


Report: Political Violence Down Since End of Cold War By
Peter Heinlein

United Nations 18 October 2005

A new report shows a decline in almost all forms of political
violence since the end of the Cold War. The only exception is
international terrorism. The number and frequency of armed
conflicts, genocides, human rights violations, military coups
and international crises are all down.

The 2005 Human Security Report shows that many commonly held
beliefs about wars are wrong. The report's principal author,
Canada-based political scientist Andrew Mack, listed a few at
Monday news conference at U.N. headquarters

For instance, he says figures show there are fewer wars
involving nations and the number of genocides and other
politically-motivated killings is dropping. Mr. Mack says his
findings came as a big surprise to U.N. officials.

"For many people in the U.N., the 1990s was the worst decade
the organization experienced. This was the decade of Somalia,
Srebrenica, of Rwanda and so forth, and yet the reality is,
during this period, although there were these awful
conflicts, the overall number of wars had gone down," Mr.
Mack says.

He says the number of people killed as a result of armed

conflicts is at its lowest since the Korean War era.

"People say to us, look, it may well be the case that there
are fewer wars and fewer genocides, but surely more people
are being killed," Mr. Mack says. "But when we look at this,
the number of people killed in wars involving a state every
year, all the wars, and you can see there's a high point,
that's the Korean war, and it keeps on going down and down
and down. If you look at the average number of people killed
per conflict per year, it goes from 37-thousand in 1950 to
just 600 in 2002."

Mr. Mack says there are several reasons for the decline in
number of wars and genocides. Among them are the increased
U.N. role in conflict prevention, the end of the Cold War,
and the end of colonialism.

But the main cause is simply that the nature of war is

"We no longer have huge wars with huge armies, major
engagements, heavy conventional weapons, most of today's wars
are low-intensity wars fought with light weapons, small arms,
often in very poor countries, they are extremely brutal but
they don't kill that many people," Mr. Mack says.

The report notes that international terrorism is on the rise.
The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center shows a jump from
175 significant terrorist incidents in 2003 to 651 last year,
most of them linked to Kashmir. But Mr. Mack says that while
terrorism is on the rise, it is not as grave a security
threat as it is often portrayed.

"Among the myths we look at and explode are the idea that
international terrorism is the greatest threat to global
security. In face, international terrorism kills only a tiny
number of people each year compared to the number killed in
wars," Mr. Mack says.

The Human Security Report concludes that while the world may
be getting more peaceful, that is no consolation for people
in places such as Darfur, Iraq, Congo, or Nepal.

The study was sponsored by the governments of Canada, Norway,
Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. It can be found online at

The Christian Science Monitor
October 18, 2005


World > Global Issues

FEWER WARS? President Bush talked to members of the 42nd
Infantry Division (Mechanized) National Guard unit stationed
in Tikrit, Iraq, via video teleconference Oct. 13. A new
report suggests that the number of violent global conflicts

A welcome surprise: war waning globally

By Howard LaFranchi
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - After a 20th century that was perhaps mankind's
most violent, all indicators point to a 21st century that
will be as bad or worse. Civil wars and new ideological
conflicts will multiply. The effectiveness of international
forces for peace will wane. And the security of mankind will
be the victim caught in the middle. Right?

Wrong, says a report based on a three-year study by a group
of international researchers. Contrary to widespread public
perception, they find that the world is witnessing fewer wars
- and those wars that do occur are killing fewer people.

The study, released Monday at the UN, also concludes that
global conflict-prevention and postconflict peacebuilding
efforts are becoming more numerous and more effective.

"We knew the number of wars was coming down, because that has
been around in academic circles for a while, but particularly
surprising is how the decline in wars is reflected right
across the board in all forms of political conflict and
violence," says Andrew Mack, head of the Human Security
Center at the University of British Columbia. He directed the
team that delivered the report.

That means that not only are interstate wars down, but so are
civil conflicts, as well as other forms of political violence
like human-rights abuses.

The report finds that the total number of conflicts declined
by 40 percent since the cold war ended. The average number of
deaths per conflict has also declined dramatically, from
37,000 in 1950 to 600 in 2002. The study found 25 civil
conflicts last year - the lowest number since 1976.

Why the vast improvement? The report credits an "explosion of
efforts" in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The number
of UN "preventive diplomacy" missions and government-based
"contact groups" aimed at resolving conflicts has risen
sharply in the last decade.

Other specialists note that the number of democracies in the
world is growing. And democracies, recent history suggests,
do not go to war against each other.

"Yes there are caveats, but generally the growing number of
democracies in the world reduces the number of countries to
fight," says Richard Stoll, a political scientist at Rice
University in Houston.

At the same time, he says that a strengthening sense of an
"international community" is changing world thinking on when
warfare is acceptable.

War in Afghanistan, viewed by the world as a response to an
attack, was seen as legitimate, says Mr. Stoll. Iraq, judged
more as a war of choice, he adds, was not.

The increasing weight of world opinion and action is also
having an impact on leaders and warlords who in another era
would have felt no constraints on warmaking, says John
Norris, a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group
in Washington.

"There is an international rallying to the notion of a need
to protect populations that are threatened in their own
borders; it's gained some traction," say Mr. Norris. He notes
that international actions against high-profile violators
like Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic or Liberia's Charles Taylor
have had an impact.

"The world has sent a message to the warlords and despots,"
he says, "and we've seen modified behavior from people who
were engaged in the worst sorts of abuses."

Norris says failures in Rwanda, the Balkans, and Sierra Leone
in the 1990s taught the international community what doesn't
work. Peacekeeping operations are now "more robust, and we're
generally better at postconflict activities."

To be sure, the report does not suggest that wars are
disappearing. "The last thing we want to encourage with this
is complacency," says Mr. Mack.

But the findings, he says, should help debunk fears that
global human security is deteriorating.

Why do those fears persist, despite countervailing evidence?
Mack lays principal blame on the media, which he says dwell
on conflict while paying less attention to "quiet successes"
and under-the-surface trends.

And he notes that people's perceptions are slow to change. In
South Africa, for example, people continue to think that
murder and other violence are getting worse, even thought
statistics show that those threats are decreasing.

The public's sense of what threatens security in the 21st
century has changed, too, especially in developed countries
like the United States, experts say.

The 9/11 attacks "tore away the illusion that the oceans
protected us," says Jessica Mathews, president of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington,
with the "psychological effect that certainly Americans feel
less secure."

ICG's Norris says a poor perception of security in the face
of improving conditions may be a response to what he worries
is a trend for the 21st century - more targeting of
individuals, including aid workers. "Those cases get a lot of
attention," he says, "and suggest another area for
international action."

Copyright 2005 The Christian Science Monitor.

The Washington Post
October 17, 2005


A Look at U.N. Study of Global Violence

By The Associated Press
Monday, October 17, 2005; 9:50 PM

-- Key findings from a three-year study of global violence
released Monday:

_ The number of civil wars, which now make up more than 95
percent of all armed conflicts, rose sharply after World War
II but have declined since 1992.

_ Between 1992 and 2003, the last year for which complete
data are currently available, the number of armed conflicts
dropped by 40 percent.

_ In 1992, there were 51 armed conflicts involving at least
one government. The number fell to 32 in 2002 and to 29 in

_ Asia had the most armed conflicts involving a government in
2003 with 14, followed by Africa with 10.

_ Of the 29 armed conflicts in 2003, only two were between
countries, India against Pakistan and the U.S.-led war
against Iraq.

_ Britain and France, the two countries that once had the
largest colonial empires, have fought the most international
wars since 1946 _ with 21 for Britain and 19 for France. The
United States ranked third with 16 wars and Russia fourth
with nine. Most of their wars were fought over Cold War

_ Mass killings as a result of religious, ethnic or political
beliefs dropped from 10 in 1989 to two in 2001.

_ In 1972, there were over 340,000 battle-deaths from armed
conflicts involving at least one government. In 1982, there
were over 250,000, in 1992 over 100,000, and in 2002, less
than 20,000 _ the lowest total since 1927.

_ In 2003, Africa had almost 11,000 battle-deaths, the Middle
East had over 9,000, Asia had nearly 6,000, and Europe and
the Americas less than 1,000.

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