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The facts on War and Peace


In recorded history since 3600 BC, over 14,500 major wars have killed close to four billion people – two-thirds of the current world population.^1^

Number of armed conflicts 1946–99^1^


In armed conflicts since 1945, 90 per cent of casualties have been civilians compared to 50 per cent in the Second World War and 10 per cent in the First.^2^ The planning and execution of war remains controlled by men. But women and children are the main victims of violence in war and peace.


A contribution to the militarization of society is to socialize children into thinking violence and war are justifiable and glorious. From military, defence and weapons-industry recruitment schemes to action-hero toys, society creates killers.


Even in peacetime, women are far more likely to experience violent abuse than men – for example one out of every six pregnant women in the US is battered during pregnancy.^7^

Percentages of women reporting physical abuse by male partner^8^


Governments and national leaders are often the most horrific perpetrators of violence. Torture occurs in more than 100 countries and is carried out as part of government policy in at least 40.^6^ And governments form a crucial part of the military-industrial complex that is responsible for churning out the weapons and methods of war.

Main Arms Exoporters^1^


United States



International co-operation and law can support local peace processes.


Many individual countries spend over the three-per-cent average of GDP that the world spends on defence – more than half of the Cambodian national budget (around 50 per cent of which is supplied by foreign aid) is spent on defence and security.^10^

Around 85 countries have undergone some sort of disarmament since the end of the Cold War in 1989, but 69 nations have been increasing their stock of weapons – mostly Majority World countries buying from the richer ones.^1^ Disarmament could potentially release large amounts of money for development.

Military expenditure as percentage of GDP^11^


Only a third of all civil wars that occurred after 1800 have ended through negotiations. Since 1945 around 25 per cent of conflicts have been solved by negotiations. But recently compromise settlements are becoming more prevalent such as in the cases of Liberia, El Salvador and Guatemala.^2^

Conflict and Compromise – A World Map

Key: High-Intensity Conflict (killing over 1,000 people in 1998) Low-Intensity Conflict Negotiations between parties or peace process under way

  1. Any conflict with over 1,000 battlefield-related deaths per year is generally defined as a war. Peace Pledge Union.
  2. Kumar Rupesinghe & Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, _Civil Wars, Civil Peace_ (Pluto Press, 1998).
  3. _Development Bulletin_ No 44 1998.
  4. _Peace Matters_ No 22 1998.
  5. US Bureau of the Census, _Current Population Reports_, No 423.
  6. Gemini News Service.
  7. International Planned Parenthood Federation.
  8. World Health Organization.
  9. _The Nation_ Vol 267 No 15.
  10. Edmund Cairns, _A Safer Future_ (Oxfam, 1997).
  11. _Understanding Global Issues_ No 4 1998.

New Internationalist issue 311 magazine cover This article is from the April 1999 issue of New Internationalist.
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