4: Tendency – more or less peaceful?
WHICH PERIOD? The number of serious armed conflicts increased steadily in the period after 1945 and peaked in 1993 at just over 50 (cf. Figs. 1 and 2). Thereafter, the number gradually decreased and has since about 2000 been fairly stable between 30 and 40+ – with variation from year to year. In other words, since the peak in 1993, the world has become more peaceful. If the starting point is shifted by ten years to 2003, a stable conflict picture is a more correct description than a decline. With the Arab Spring and especially the civil war in Syria, there has even been an increase in the number of deaths in the last two years.
The number of conflicts varies somewhat depending on who counts. Different institutes and researchers use somewhat different methods and definitions for conflict levels. SIPRI is generally somewhat lower than HIIK. HIIK operates with a somewhat lower limit for war (limited war for more than 360 annually killed) and includes more factors than just the number of killed in the assessment: the size of forces, refugee numbers, extent of destruction, types of weapons used (light or heavier). For our use, however, this is subordinate. The main tendency
of both is quite similar when it comes to the most serious conflicts. The figure shows that parts of the world are still marked by war and unrest.
5: Only count when government forces are involved?
According to rctoysadvice, many conflicts are characterized by the fact that they last for several years, albeit with varying intensity. The course of the conflict can go in waves and then alternate between intensive periods with a lot of warfare and periods with little organized, politically motivated violence. It is important to distinguish war from purely criminally motivated use of violence, even if the border is far from crystal clear. War is sometimes referred to as the continuation of politics, but with the use of other means.
Traditionally, states have been the most important security actors, and they still are. In line with this picture, SIPRI has traditionally concentrated its counting on conflicts ( see text box ) where at least one party is state (government forces), while HIIK has also included other factors. Thus, HIIK has often talked to, for example, the drug war Mexico (more than 60,000 killed since 2006) when two or more armed drug cartels crash (see HHD 4: 2010).
In recent years, SIPRI has also emphasized that non-state actors have become more visible security actors. In any case, the worst death toll often emerges when government forces are involved in the conflict. In the area within the ellipse (cf. the map p. 1), population growth is highest, population composition is skewed (disproportionately many young people) and water problems are greatest. This is a challenging situation in terms of reducing the number of conflicts.
6: What Promotes Peace?
Instead of describing the current conflict picture, we could have described peaceful societies in this article. What are the characteristics of them? And what are not only the triggers, but also the underlying, underlying causes of peace? What makes some societies tolerate disagreement and conflict better than others? Why do some societies more easily than others fall into the limelight and fall into violent conflicts? In other words: What are the drivers of a peaceful society? How can knowledge about and insight into such be transferred to other societies?
As SIPRI points out in its yearbook for 2013: None of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals deal with security, conflict and peace, even though we know how important lasting peace is for human life. Could the absence be due to the fact that war and violence seem to have been a part of people’s lives since the “dawn of time” – that setting goals for fewer wars and conflicts can easily appear as a hopeless enterprise?
SIPRI excels in four areas where further research is needed:
- What drives insecurity, conflict and vulnerability
- Trends in security, conflict and peace
- Consequences of violent conflicts and insecurity
- Interventions and institutions that promote security and peace
Insufficient knowledge in these areas makes it more difficult to build peace and prevent conflicts. This makes interference in conflicts more ideologically based, and the chance of making mistakes increases. This makes it easier to highlight the limitations, rather than the possibilities, of external interventions, it is pointed out from SIPRI. They are therefore calling for more and even better data, as well as a global system that shows which pillars and contexts peace rests on.
7: A peace index
One way to accommodate this APB is the global peace index – The global peace index (from the Institute for Economics and Peace). There are 160 countries ranked according to how high they score on eight peace pillars (see Fig. 4 and the “petals” there). Each of the pillars is again divided into smaller sub-goals where the countries are given a grade. Can countries and populations with conflict have something to learn from the countries high on the list – and if so, what? How can they build societies with positive peace (cf. the peace flower above), which is something more than just negative peace – the absence of war?
ll the pillars are both mutually dependent on each other and mutually reinforcing – good governance reduces the level of corruption and vice versa: Low levels of corruption improve governance. This connection can in turn lead to a fairer distribution in society and increased trust and more tolerance between social groups. The better educated and the better the health of a population, the better the conditions for running a business. The index illustrates a holistic approach to peace – that is, it must work on all “fronts” simultaneously to create or maintain lasting peace in a society. Just improving people’s health and education (cf. human capital in Fig. 4) is not enough if efforts are not made at the same time to strengthen the understanding of minority rights and the other pillars of peace (the “petals” of the peace flower).