War is no solution to a problem. It’s useless. Why make things that destroy humanity?
Charles Mance, Australian soldier who fought in WW1 and died in 2001 aged 100 [The Age, Melbourne, 21/9/2001]
War kills, and its consequences extend far beyond deaths in battle. Armed conflict often leads to forced migration, long-term refugee problems, and the destruction of infrastructure. Social, political, and economic institutions can be permanently damaged.
Since the beginning of recorded history, over 14,500 major wars have killed about four billion people. Since the Second World War, there have been, on average, about 30 armed conflicts every year. 90% of casualties in these conflicts have been civilians, compared to 50% in the Second World War and 10% in the First. Women and children have often suffered most. Since 1989, 128 armed conflicts have resulted in at least 250,000 deaths each year.
There has been an underlying trend over the last ten years of the world becoming slightly less peaceful when compared to the prior year. Catastrophic wars continue to rage in the Middle East and potential conflicts loom in East, Central and South Asia. Amid all the publicity over Iraq, Syria and the war on terror, Africa is often forgotten. Between 1998 and 2003, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo claimed up to 6 million lives, making it the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War 2. Although the conflict has officially finished, much of the country remains desperately poor and the continuing fighting and widespread sexual violence in the eastern regions make it one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman.
In many conflict zones children account for the majority of the casualties. In countries such as South Sudan, Syria and Yemen children are killed, maimed, recruited and used as child soldiers, abducted and made victims of sexual violence. Schools and hospitals are under attack, and they have no access to basic life-saving humanitarian assistance. Most children die, not from the weapons themselves, but from preventable diseases that aren’t prevented or treated because the health systems and infrastructure have been destroyed.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. SIPRI publishes an annual yearbook.
The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) conducts research on the conditions for peaceful relations between states, groups and people.
The Institute for Economics and Peace is a think tank dedicated to developing metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic value. An annual report, “Global Peace Index”, provides a statistical analysis of the state of peace in 163 countries.