Armed conflicts in the world down by 40% since early 1990s

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

According to the first Human Security Report released by the Canadian organisation Human Security Centre, armed conflicts, genocide and politicide have declined sharply since the early nineties. Also in a fifty year time span, the number of war causalites, coups and other war-statistics have gone down, often dramatically.

A sample of stats from the report's overview:

  • The number of armed conflicts are down more than 40%.
  • There were 25 ongoing armed secessionist conflicts, the lowest number since 1976.
  • The number of refugees in the world dropped by 45% between 1992 and 2003.
  • The post WWII peace period between major powers is the longest in several hundred years.
  • The average number of deaths per conflict fell 98% between 1950 and 2002 (from 38,000 people to 600 people).
  • The United Kingdom and France have engaged in more international conflicts since 1946 than any other countries.

Commenting on possible reasons for the decline, Andrew Mack, the principal investigator behind the study, stated, "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."

According to the report, most wars today are fought in small, poorly-equipped countries. While acknowledging that human rights abuses do occur in these conflicts, these wars produce far fewer casualties than the major wars of 50 years ago. Other factors affecting the decline of deaths (both military and civilian) is the emergence of high-tech war making and the overwhelming military advantage enjoyed by some countries — precision guided missiles and overwhelming numbers have led the United States and its allies to quick victories in conflicts such as the Gulf War, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

The report goes on to say that the current conflict in Iraq is an exception. While the conventional war ended in 2003, the continued insurgency has led to the death of tens of thousands.

The report does not include the Iraq war in its analyis, nor the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The Human Security Centre is based at the University of British Columbia and is funded by contributions from several governments and international foundations.