War Making Headlines, but Peace Breaks Out
The chilling sights and sounds of war fill newspapers and television screens worldwide, but war itself is in decline, peace researchers report.
In fact, the number killed in battle has fallen to its lowest point in the post-World War II period, dipping below 20,000 a year by one measure. Peacemaking missions, meantime, are growing in number.
For months the battle reports and casualty tolls from Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) have put war in the headlines, but Swedish and Canadian non-governmental groups tracking armed conflict globally find a general decline in numbers from peaks in the 1990s.
The authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in a 2004 Yearbook report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication, says 19 major armed conflicts were under way worldwide in 2003, a sharp drop from 33 wars counted in 1991.
"Not only are the numbers declining, but the intensity" — the bloodshed in each conflict — "is declining," said Marshall, founder of a University of Maryland program studying political violence.