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

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This article was nominated for deletion on November 4, 2005, and the result was to keep the article.
The archived version of the deletion debate can be found here.

I'm surprised by this, given the reported 3.5 million who've died as a result of the war in the DRC, and the big numbers killed in Darfur. The total number of wars may be down but are we having less war or just fewer, larger wars?! For me at least (and I suspect many others) the big question is whether the total number of war deaths per year/decade is going up or down. This report is interesting but we need more sources if at all possible.Rcameronw 08:40, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

rename? + some other pointsEdit

"Total number of armed conflicts in the world down by 40% since early 1990s, says [claims?] new report", or some such.

  • One rather shocking stat that the report itself picks up - 90% of deaths in war are civilian - to my mind that's at least as surprising (and headline-worthy) a claim as the claim that the total number of armed conflicts went down between 1992 and 2002/3 (the latest years for which the report seems to have data).
I'm fairly certain the "90% of deaths in war are civilian" is explicitly stated as a myth. --NeuronExMachina 01:17, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Another surprising finding - according to the press release ([1]) the two most "warlike" countries in the world (eg. the two that have engaged in more wars than anyone else) are Britain and France.

  • I think we should mention who funded the report.

Here's the accompanying press release:

Press Release COMPREHENSIVE THREE-YEAR STUDY SHOWS SURPRISING EVIDENCE OF MAJOR DECLINES IN ARMED CONFLICTS, GENOCIDES, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE, MILITARY COUPS AND INTERNATIONAL CRISES, WORLDWIDE. The Number of Armed Conflicts Has Dropped 40% since 1992. This Unheralded Decline Is Linked to a Dramatic Increase in UN Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Efforts. NEW YORK, October 17, 2005—Confounding conventional wisdom, a major new report reveals that all forms of political violence, except international terrorism, have declined worldwide since the early 1990s. Supported by five governments, published by Oxford University Press and released today, the Human Security Report is the most comprehensive annual survey of trends in warfare, genocide, and human rights abuses. The Report, which was produced by the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia, shows how, after nearly five decades of inexorable increase, the number of genocides and violent conflicts dropped rapidly in the wake of the Cold War. It also reveals that wars are not only far less frequent today, but are also far less deadly. In tracking and analyzing these trends the Report draws on specially commissioned studies and confirms the little-publicized findings of earlier research to explode a number of widely believed myths about contemporary political violence. The latter include claims that terrorism is currently the gravest threat to international security, that 90% of those killed in today’s wars are civilians and that women are disproportionately victimized by armed conflict. Analyzing the causes of the improvement in global security since the early 1990s, the Report argues that the UN played a critically important role in spearheading a huge upsurge of international conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace building activities. Although marred by much–publicized failures, these efforts have been the major driver of the reduction in war numbers around the world. The Report examines alternative explanations for the decline and finds them wanting. Professor Andrew Mack, who directed the Report project, says that these extraordinary changes have attracted little discussion because so few realize that they have taken place. ‘No international agency collects data on wars, genocides, terrorist acts, or core human rights abuses,’ he said. ‘The issues are just too politically sensitive. And ignorance is compounded by the fact that the global media give far Page 2 of 6 more coverage to wars that start than those that quietly end.’ KEY FINDINGS Patterns of Political Violence Have Changed 􀂉 The number of armed conflicts has declined by more than 40% since 1992. The deadliest conflicts (those with 1000 or more battle-deaths) dropped even more dramatically––by 80%. 􀂉 The number of international crises, often harbingers of war, fell by more than 70% between 1981 and 2001. 􀂉 Wars between countries are more rare than in previous eras and now constitute less than 5% of all armed conflicts. 􀂉 The number of military coups and attempted coups has declined by some 60% since 1963. In 1963, there were 25 coups or attempted coups; in 2004, there were 10. All failed. 􀂉 Most armed conflicts now take place in the poorest countries in the world, but as incomes rise the risk of war declines. 􀂉 The period since the end of World War II is the longest interval without wars between the major powers in hundreds of years. 􀂉 The UK and France, followed by the US and Russia/USSR have fought most international wars since 1946. 􀂉 Burma and India have suffered the greatest number of ‘conflict-years’ since 1946. (If a country fights two separate wars in one calendar year this counts as two ‘conflict-years’.) In 2003, India suffered more ‘conflict-years’ than any other country in the world. 􀂉 Most of the world’s conflicts are now concentrated in Africa. But even here there are signs of hope. A new dataset compiled for the Human Security Report finds that between 2002 and 2003 (the last year for which there is data) the number of armed conflicts in Africa dropped from 41 to 35. 􀂉 The drop in armed conflicts in the 1990s was associated with a worldwide decline in arms transfers, military spending and troop numbers. 􀂉 Wars have become dramatically less deadly over the past five decades. The average number of people reported killed per conflict per year in 1950 was 38,000; in 2002 it was just 600––a decline of 98%. 􀂉 In the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s by far the highest battle––death tolls in the world were in the wars in East and Southeast Asia. In the 1970s and 1980s, most of the killing took place in the Middle East, Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. By the end of the 1990s, more people were being killed in sub-Saharan Africa’s wars than the rest of the world put together. Page 3 of 6 􀂉 The new dataset created for the Report finds that between 2002 and 2003 the number of reported deaths from all forms of political violence fell by 62% in the Americas, 32% in Europe, 35% in Asia and 24 % in Africa. 􀂉 The biggest death tolls do not come from the actual fighting, however, but from war-exacerbated disease and malnutrition. These ‘indirect’ deaths can account for as much as 90% of the total war-related death toll. Currently there are insufficient data to make even rough estimations of global or regional ‘indirect’ death toll trends. 􀂉 Not withstanding the horrors of Rwanda and Srebrenica, Bosnia, the number of genocides and other mass killings plummeted by 80% between the 1989 high point and 2001. 􀂉 International terrorism is the only form of political violence that appears to be getting worse. Some datasets have shown an overall decline in international terrorist incidents of all types since the early 1980s, but the most recent statistics suggest a dramatic increase in the number of high–casualty attacks since the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001. The annual death toll from international terrorist attacks is, however, only a tiny fraction of annual war death toll. Why We Have Fewer Wars The Human Security Report identifies three major political changes over the past 30 years that, Andrew Mack says, “have radically altered the global security landscape.” First, was the end of colonialism. From the early 1950s to the early 1980s, colonial wars made up 60–100% of all international conflicts depending on the year. Today there are no such wars. Second, was the end of the Cold War, which had driven approximately one-third of all conflicts in the post–World War II. This removed any residual threat of war between the major powers, and Washington and Moscow stopped fueling “proxy wars” in the developing world. Third, was the unprecedented upsurge of international activities designed to stop ongoing wars and prevent new ones starting that took place in the wake of the Cold War. Spearheaded by the UN these activities included: 􀂉 A six-fold increase in UN preventive diplomacy missions (to stop wars starting). 􀂉 A four-fold increase in UN peacemaking missions (to end ongoing conflicts). 􀂉 A four-fold increase in UN peace operations (to reduce the risk of wars restarting). 􀂉 An eleven-fold increase in the number of states subject to UN Page 4 of 6 sanctions (which can help pressure warring parties into peace negotiations). The UN did not act alone, of course. The World Bank, donor states, regional organizations and thousands of NGOs worked closely with UN agencies––and often played independent roles of their own. But the UN, the only international organization with a global security mandate, has been the leading player. As this upsurge of international activism grew in scope and intensity through the 1990s, the number of crises, wars and genocides declined, despite the much–publicized failures. The evidence that these initiatives worked is not just circumstantial. A recent RAND corporation study, for example, found that two thirds of the UN’s peace building missions had succeeded. In addition, the sharp increase in peacemaking efforts led to a significant increase in the number of conflicts that ended in negotiated settlements. Approximately half of all the peace agreements negotiated between 1946 and 2003 have been signed since the end of the Cold War. The annual cost of these changes to the international community has been modest––well under 1% of world military spending. In fact, the cost of running all of the UN’s 17 peace operations around the world for an entire year is less than the United States spends in Iraq in a single month. The Report argues that, in the long run, equitable economic development, increased state capacity and the spread of inclusive democracy play a vital role in reducing the risk of political violence. But it also argues that these factors cannot explain the dramatic post-Cold War reduction in armed conflicts. Why Today’s Wars Kill Fewer People The explosion of international activism after the Cold War helps explain the subsequent decline in the number of armed conflicts, but it doesn’t tell us why they became so much less deadly. Here the explanation is related to changes in the nature of warfare and (possibly) in the international refugee regime: 􀂉 The major wars of the Cold War era typically involved huge armies, heavy conventional weapons, and massive external intervention. They killed hundreds of thousands––sometimes millions. 􀂉 The overwhelming majority of today’s wars are low-intensity conflicts fought with small arms and light weapons. They typically pit weak government forces against ill-trained rebels and rarely involve major engagements. Although often brutal, they kill relatively few people compared with the major wars of the Cold War era––typically hundreds rather than tens or hundreds of thousands. 􀂉 The decline in the battle-death toll is probably also related to the Page 5 of 6 huge increase in the number of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the 1980s. By 1992, the peak year, the worldwide total of displaced people exceeded 40 million––up from little over 10 million at the end of the 1970s. Displacement is a humanitarian tragedy, but had these millions not fled their homes, hundreds of thousands––possibly far more––could have been killed. So the increase in displacement is likely one of the reasons for the decline in battle-deaths. Finally, we know that countries ruled by authoritarian regimes have higher levels of violent internal repression and gross human rights abuses than do democratic regimes. At the end of the 1970s some 90 countries around the world were governed by authoritarian regimes; by 2003 there were just 30. The decline was steepest in the post–Cold War years when the numbers of genocides and other mass killings started to drop rapidly. In addition, the Report, finds that human rights abuses declined in 5 out of 6 regions in the developing world after the mid-1990s. No Grounds for Complacency Despite the positive changes it documents, the Report makes clear that there are no grounds for complacency. Although wars and war-deaths are down, there are still some 60 armed conflicts raging around the globe. There are still gross abuses of human rights, widespread war crimes, and ever-deadlier acts of terrorism. And because the underlying causes of conflict are too rarely addressed, the risk of new wars breaking out, and old ones starting up again remains very real. And, as the many failures of the past––and numerous recent reports––have made clear, the UN remains in urgent need of reform if it is truly to fulfill its mandate to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’. That the world is getting more peaceful is no consolation to people suffering in Darfur, Iraq, Colombia, Congo or Nepal. To help them, policymakers need a better understanding of human insecurity. That is the central goal of the Human Security Report. The Human Security Report provides the data and analysis that can help the international community evaluate the effects of conflict prevention and resolution policies. ‘Without trend data neither international agencies nor governments can tell whether or not their efforts are succeeding’, Mack said.

  • The report estimates 2.5 million dead in DRC (other reports have taken a higher figure).
  • The report describes 1989 as the "high point" for genocides, and suggests that Bosnia, Rwanda etc. were part of a downward trend. But this seems bizarre - and certainly counterintuitive. There are only a relatively small number of events widely acknowledged as "genocide" (as opposed to "politicide" etc.) and I'm not sure of any of them that were going on in 1989... (there's some analyis of genocide/politicide here:
  • The report focusses on the apparent fact that on average, fewer soldiers are getting killed per war than earlier in the century. Obviously that's good news - but I'm fairly sure I've seen reports elsewhere - that the number of civilian deaths in war (both relative and absolute) is actually increasing, partly because of the spread of small arms (mostly guns but also landmines) especially in Africa. -- Rcameronw 10:08, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Article formattingEdit

It'd be better if someone would be willing to format this article into more of a journalistic piece rather than listing off a bunch of the key points of the study. The article would be better if more was detailed in each of the key points and mentioning that it is a new study (perhaps changing the title to reflect it as well) that details these items. --Mrmiscellanious 19:29, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

Why not give it a try yourself, MrMiscellanious? Neutralizer 20:46, 19 October 2005 (UTC)


This badly needs links. Who is that organization? Are they reliable? etc. Submarine 22:25, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Triple J 'Hack' coverageEdit

I don't know if you can include this in the article, but Triple J's Hack program (from Australia) covered this report[2]. Steve Cannane interviews one of the authors of the report. Sorry there's really no text to go with it, just an MP3. Imroy 16:57, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

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

Will you please summarize the current POV concerns on the talk page of the article? --Chiacomo (talk) 04:12, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

NPOV and other concernsEdit

Editors above have identified;

  • Formatting-Mrmiscellanious
  • Title-Rcameronw
  • Questionable 1 sided content-NeuronExMachina + Rcameronw
  • Reporting Organization's reliability questioned-Submarine

Neutralizer 04:26, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Do you have any objections to publishing the article, Neutralizer? I think most of the objections have been dealt with (though I may be mistaken). This article is getting stale... :D --Chiacomo (talk) 04:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes I have objections. Why has this article risen from the dead? It is already stale. The questions, issues raised above have not been answered; e.g.;"I think we should mention who funded the report". I think it's kind of off for the article to be coming back into published when the editors who participated on the talk page before have probably forgotten about it and won't notice it has been resurrected. I don't really understand this. Neutralizer 04:46, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Mmm.. Generally publishing articles (if they're still news worthy) is preferable to deletion... So, I suppose Amgine (who tried to publish the article and has listed several more for deletion tonight) is trying to save it rather than delete it. I don't think it's stale as far as newsworthiness -- it's stale 'cause it's been sitting in developing stories for a while. According to the website the Human Security Centre conducted the report; they are funded by such worthies as The Canadian International Development Agency, The Department for International Development (United Kingdom), The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The Human Security Centre is based at the University of British Columbia. What part of that information do you think qualifies as answering the question "Who funded the report?" --Chiacomo (talk) 05:03, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
I see where it's a matter of "housecleaning" perhaps; but I think you and Amgine should be asking the editors who expressed concern on this talk page if they feel it is ready to be published. The way it's happening now is, unintentionally, too "backdoor". I have no objections if Mrmiscellanious,Rcameronw,NeuronExMachina and Submarine have none; but I do not see where their complaints have been dealt with. Actually, the article could have several more tags based upon their observations. Neutralizer 16:10, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Like any other story, if the complaints have not been addressed, they can unpublish. I will publish again, now, and unless there are specific objections, perhaps it will stay published. If you find somethign that needs fixing, please DO fix it (or find someone else to). --Chiacomo (talk) 17:35, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Ok; since no-one else will likely see this discussion, and since I feel this story qualifies, I will put it up for deletion and maybe we can get more opinions. Neutralizer 19:47, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Adressing article concernsEdit


I don't see a particular problem with the format. The article takes some key figures from the report and states them in bullet points. Some commentary before and after the bullet points explain the origins of the content. --Chiacomo (talk) 23:25, 4 November 2005 (UTC)


The title might be more precise in saying Report indicated armed conflicts in the world down by 40% since early 90s -- in this way, the title is not presented as a statement of fact, but rather, as the conclusion of a report. --Chiacomo (talk) 23:25, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Questionable one-sided contentEdit

Hrm. Well, the story is about the report issued by the Human Security Centre, so yes, the report that is being reported on in this article is one source -- but, if one reads the report (and it is quite lengthy) one finds that many many sources have been consulted. --Chiacomo (talk) 23:25, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Reporting organization's reliability questionedEdit

In my mind, this report is neither more nor less reliable than many such organizations. The report has been endorsed by several worthy organizations and individuals including the United Nations and other governmental organizations. How does one establish reliability? Is Amnesty International reliable? Is the United Nations Committe on Human Rights reliable? I dunno... --Chiacomo (talk) 23:25, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

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