THE share of men and women worldwide who can expect to be exposed to the horrors of war is declining, including in Africa.
Armed forces personnel as a percent of the total labour force, have seen a sustained decline since the end of the Cold War. Globally, it has dropped from 1.08% in 1990 to 0.8% in 2014. That’s a 26% reduction.
In Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, it has declined by 27%, 54%, 43% and 40% respectively. Even in the Middle East and North Africa, armed forces personnel as a share of the total labour force declined by 58 percentage points—though some of the conflicts in the region have become more serious since 2014.
A similar trend can be observed in the United States, China and Russia. The three countries saw reductions of 50%, 32% and 34% respectively. (The figure for Russia reflects the period between 1992 and 2014.)
The number of armed conflicts and wars rose steadily until the collapse of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Then they started to decline.
LESS DEADLY WORLD, BUT…
According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker, the Western Hemisphere is, with the exception of the drug-war in Mexico, free of conflict.
Meanwhile the levels of peace around the world have improved slightly for the first time since the Syrian war began, according to the Global Peace Index.
The Sydney-based think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace published its Global Peace Index on Thursday, and is found that harmony has decreased in the US and terrorism records have increased.
Researchers said conflict costs had an enormous impact on economies worldwide.
Their report said that the world became 0.28% more peaceful over the past year.
This was driven by a drop in state-sponsored violence, including torture and extrajudicial killings, and a decrease in the murder rate.
But the US, where an increase in murders and a higher level of perceived crime pushed peacefulness down, posted a poor outlook.
And while terrorism levels jumped in Europe, it remained the most peaceful region on the planet.
TERRORISM NOT GOING AWAY
The number of countries seeing a record number of deaths from terrorism rose to 23. Among those were Denmark, Sweden, France and Turkey. Researchers found that 60% of countries now have a higher rate of terrorism than they did 10 years ago.
Increased support for populism in Europe corresponded with a deterioration in peacefulness levels, the report suggested, as wealth inequality rises, media freedoms decrease and people’s acceptance of the rights of others diminishes.
Syria is the least peaceful country in the world for the fifth year running. Before the outbreak of civil war there, it was the 65th least peaceful. Its fall has been the starkest of the past decade.
The other four most violent countries are Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen.
The combined Middle East and North Africa was the least peaceful region in the world.
Iceland remained the most peaceful country in the world, a spot it has occupied since 2008.
The Global Peace Index has now been published for 10 year running.