NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 24, 2006

In the last decade, the number of armed conflicts worldwide has declined sharply, and their overall lethality is the lowest since the 1950s, say observers.

Some historians believe the decline is temporary, while others think that war has become as obsolete as slavery or dueling; but despite a prevailing sense of global insecurity, these positive trends have continued into 2005, say researchers at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM).

According to CIDCM:

  • The decline in the global magnitude of armed conflict has persisted; few of the many societal wars contained in the last decade have resumed and major societal wars are down from 12 at the end of 2002 to eight in early 2005.
  • Ethnonational wars for independence -- which were the main threat to civil peace and regional security in the 1990s -- have continued to decline to their lowest level since 1960.
  • Repression and political discrimination against ethnic minorities have declined significantly, coinciding with the dramatic decline in autocratic regimes since the late 1980s; and since 1950, the number of minorities benefiting from policies aimed at remedying past political discrimination has increased five-fold.

Furthermore, popular forces have mobilized in many countries, such as Bolivia, Georgia, Philippines, and Ukraine, to promote democratic principles, hold leaders accountable and thwart the subversion of democratization; in the Middle East -- the region most resistant to democratization -- tutelary democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq have gained support and small steps have been taken toward democratic reform in Arab autocracies.

However, international cooperation is threatened by growing fractures in the world community, says CIDCM.

Source: Frank Greve, "Conflicts' lethality called lowest since '50s," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 17, 2006; based upon: Monty G. Marshall and Ted Robert Gurr, "Peace and Conflict 2005: A Global Survey of Armed Conflicts, Self-Determination Movements, and Democracy," Center for International Development and Conflict Management, July 1, 2005.


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