NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Analysts Find Peace In Ascendancy

March 27, 2000

Wars are on the wane. That is the conclusion being reached by groups which monitor conflicts throughout the world.

"Contrary to public perception, we're seeing a declining number of conflicts," says David Malone, president of the International Peace Academy in New York, which advises the United Nations. "Wars between states have declined sharply, and many civil wars have been addressed very effectively," he adds.

  • From 1992 to 1998, armed conflicts decreased in all of the world's five major regions to a total of 36 from 55, according to Sweden's Uppsala University's peace department, which keeps a widely cited list.
  • Preliminary figures for 1999 show at least a slight rise from the prior year, but the numbers are still considerably lower than those of the early 1990s.
  • Factors behind the trend include the growing costs wars impose, global economic growth and the willingness of international forces to intervene in civil wars.
  • Also, growing numbers of countries and institutions have been developing the specialty of "conflict prevention" -- which seeks to forge links between divided groups.

Successful efforts to avoid conflicts include the blood bath that never occurred following the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. Also the successful accommodations made by the Baltic states to their restive Russian minorities after the Soviet Union fell. Then there were successful efforts to establish peace in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala -- defying predictions that peace couldn't hold.

Such developments are often overlooked, experts say, because while wars make headlines, peace is seldom reported.

Source: G. Pascal Zachary, "Obscured by the Roar of the World's Battles, Peace Is Advancing," Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2000.


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