conflicts_worldwideThe world has become dramatically more peaceful since 1992, according to the Human Security Report. The number of wars, coup d’etats, and acts of genocide has declined by 40 percent. Weapons sales between countries have dropped 33 percent during the same time, and the number of refugees has diminished by 45 percent…

The first Human Security Report released in 2005 is an in-depth analysis of world conflict. that documents a dramatic, but largely unknown, decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuse over the past decade. Published by Oxford University Press, the Report argues that the single most compelling explanation for these changes is found in the unprecedented upsurge of international activism and peacekeeping spearheaded by the UN in the wake of the Cold War.

Despite this, the “nature of media reporting” leads many people to believe war is on the rise, says Andrew Mack, director of the University of British Columbia’s Human Security Center, which compiled the report. “If it bleeds, it leads,” he said of the media focus. “You automatically tend to report wars that break out. If conflict quietly peters out, nobody reports it.”

For optimists worldwide, here are some hopeful signs for the future:

– The number of international crises – defined as situations that leaders consider imminently threatening to their countries’ security – has declined by more than two-thirds since 1981, according to the Human Security Report.

– Instances of genocide and mass killings of ideological foes are also down from 10 a year in the early 1990s to one in 2004, according to Barbara Harff, a conflict historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. That one is grave, however: It’s in Darfur, Sudan, where Arab militias have killed at least 70,000 black Africans.

– In 1946, 20 nations in the world were democracies, according to the Maryland institute’s Peace and Conflict 2005 report. Today, 88 countries are. Many scholars contend that democracies go to war more slowly and rarely fight one another.

– The number of United Nations peacekeeping operations more than doubled from 1988 to 2005, from seven to 17.

“Until the 1990s, the international community did little to stop wars. Now it does lots,” said Mack. And it’s working, Mack added, citing a report by the Rand Corp., a U.S. research center, that two-thirds of U.N. peacekeeping efforts succeed. (Knight-Ridder)

(Human Security Report)

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