The World Has Become More Peaceful

(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)

In 2005, the Human Security Report presented detailed proof that the world has become dramatically more peaceful since the end of the Cold War. It said that the number of violent conflicts has declined by 40 percent, while acts of genocide have dropped by 80 percent. Weapons sales between countries have diminished 33 percent during the same time, and the number of refugees has fallen by 45 percent.

Meanwhile, coups d'etat have decreased 60 percent since 1963, and the number of soldiers killed in battle has declined from an average of 38,000 per war in 1950 to 600 in 2002.

Shouldn't reports on these shocking developments have been at the top of the headlines for at least one news cycle? Wouldn't it make sense to declare a holiday and dance in the streets?

One of the primary causes of the plunge in violence, according to the Human Security Report, is the unprecedented upsurge of international peace activism, much of it spearheaded by the United Nations. Other factors it cites include the acceleration of democratization and the steep downswing of global poverty.

The main study was released in 2005, with updates issued in 2007 and 2008. Among the most recent findings: Deaths caused by terrorism have decreased 40 percent; support for al-Qaeda in the Arab world has diminished precipitously; and the number of wars in sub-Saharan Africa was cut in half between 1999 and 2006, while fatalities from those conflicts dropped 98 percent. More info is