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Dramatic drop in conflicts since the cold war

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Dramatic drop in global conflicts since Cold War: report
Last Updated Tue, 18 Oct 2005 10:57:34 EDT
CBC News

The break-up of the Soviet Union and more UN peacekeeping operations have been responsible for a 40 per cent drop in armed conflicts around the world since 1992, according to a new study.

Andrew Mack, a professor at the University of British Columbia who directed the three-year study, said the end of the Cold War ended U.S. and Russian funding for proxy wars and allowed the United Nations to focus on conflict prevention.

"With the Security Council no longer paralyzed by Cold War politics, the UN spearheaded a veritable explosion of conflict prevention, peacemaking and post-conflict peace-building activities in the early 1990s," said the study, entitled the Human Security Report 2005.

In 1950, the worst year, the average war killed 37,000 people directly, Mack said. "By 2002, it was 600 an extraordinary change."

The report said that the deadliest conflicts those with more than 1,000 battle deaths have plummeted by 80 per cent.

Mass killings due to religion, ethnicity or political beliefs also dropped by 80 per cent between 1988 and 2001.

This was despite the hundreds of thousands of Kurds killed or expelled from northern Iraq in 1988 during Saddam Hussein's reign and the genocides in Rwanda in 1994 and in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

"Today most wars are fought in poor countries with armies that lack heavy conventional weapons or superpower patrons," the report said.

High tech wars, such as the first Iraq war, Kosovo and Afghanistan, have led to quick victories with few deaths.

"The current conflict in Iraq is the exception. While the conventional war that began in 2003 was over quickly and with relatively few casualties, tens of thousands have been killed in the subsequent and ongoing urban insurgency," the report said.

The report warned that 60 wars are still being fought around the world, singling out Iraq and Sudan's western Darfur region.

The report also said international terrorism is getting worse but that it has killed fewer than 1,000 people a year on average over the past 30 years. In comparison, tens of thousands were killed annually in armed conflicts during that time.

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