Sunday, October 23, 2005

War on the Wane?

Kudos to Chris Anderson on TEDBlog for highlighting a recent study about armed conflict worldwide, or more to the point, the lessening amount of it. Since peaking in 1992, the number of armed conflicts has dropped 40%. Larger conflicts (those with more than 1,000 battle deaths) are down 80%. As Chris asks, shouldn’t this be news?

For a quick take, read Chris’ post. Or for an executive summary of the research, see the Human Security Report 2005’s Overview.

Because it wasn’t in the report and the source data was easy to get, I created my own illustration of the good news (below). It shows, from 1946 to 2004, the number of nations along with the number of armed conflicts. This relationship matters because most conflicts occur within nations, as with insurgencies and civil wars. So the more nations there are, the more venues for conflicts within nations.

And yet...

I didn’t show it in the graph, but if you divide the number of conflicts by the number of nations, 2003 and 2004 are the two lowest years in the data set.

Although the number of armed conflicts is still well above zero, it is encouraging to see this forest from the usual trees.

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