Thursday, October 20, 2005

Give Peace a Chance...

Common wisdom has it that things are always getting worse - Things were so much better in the ‘good old times’… Think of ‘the cold war’ vs. the ‘terror and war’ of today. It makes you nostalgic, right?

Well, think again.... Common wisdom actually gets it wrong!

A recent study by the Human Security Centre shows that there has been a dramatic, but largely unrecognised, decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuse over the past decade.

What is interesting is to see how little media exposure this study has had since it came out on Monday. It is true that war sells better than peace.

Here are some of the key findings:

- The number of armed conflicts around the world has declined by more than 40 per cent since the early 1990s;
- Between 1991 (the high point for the post–World War II period) and 2004, 28 armed struggles for self-determination started or restarted, while 43 were contained or ended. There were just 25 armed secessionist conflicts under way in 2004, the lowest number since 1976;
- Notwithstanding the horrors of
Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere, the number of genocides and politicides plummeted by 80 per cent between the 1988 high point and 2001;
- International crises, often harbingers of war, declined by more than 70 per cent between 1981 and 2001;
- The dollar value of major international arms transfers fell by 33 per cent between 1990 and 2003. Global military expenditure and troop numbers declined sharply in the 1990s as well.
- The number of refugees dropped by some 45 per cent between 1992 and 2003, as more and more wars came to an end; and
- Five out of six regions in the developing world saw a net decrease in core human rights abuses between 1994 and 2003.
- 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. In 1950, for example, the average armed conflict killed 38,000 people; in 2002 the figure was 600, a 98 per cent decline;
- The period since the end of World War II is the longest interval of uninterrupted peace between the major powers in hundreds of years; and

- The number of actual and attempted military coups has been declining for more than 40 years.
- In 1963 there were 25 coups and attempted coups around the world, the highest number in the post–World War II period. In 2004 there were only 10 coup attempts—a 60 per cent decline. All of them failed.


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