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Wars are on the decline.


According to a new report from the Human Security Report Project, the number of deaths from armed conflicts around the world continues to fall, even while intercommunal wars have jumped and other conflicts have become increasingly difficult to bring to an end. What wars are fought are less lethal, too. "The average annual battle-death toll per conflict in the 1950s killed almost 10,000 people; in the new millennium the figure is less than 1,000," the report states.

Four of the world's five deadliest conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia) involve Islamists insurgents and, in some capacity, the United States. Although the report notes that: "The level of armed conflict in Muslim countries is far lower today than it was two decades ago, and support for al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups has declined substantially throughout the Muslim world."

So what's behind the move toward a more peaceful world? The authors take a stab at an explanation:

The demise of colonialism, the end of the Cold War, a dramatic increase in the number of democratic states, and a shift in elite attitudes towards warfare are among the key political changes that have reduced the incidence of international warfare since the end of World War II.

Equally important, argues Professor Mack, has been the dramatic long-term increase in levels of global economic interdependence. â??Interdependence,â? he says, â??has increased the costs of war while reducing its benefits.â?

The decline in civil wars has rather different causes. Since the end of the Cold War, the UN-led upsurge of international efforts to negotiate peace agreements in ongoing conflicts and to prevent wars that have ended from starting again has been associated with a significant decline in the number of wars fought within states.