Globally, Deaths From War And Murder Are in Decline

The world is getting safer, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like it

One small chunk of one small slice of one portion of the absolutely massive photo of the Milky Way captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA/JPL-Caltech/GLIMPSE Team
The newly discovered 2012 VP113, in red, and Sedna, in orange, orbit far from the Sun. The four pink bands are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The blue dots are Pluto and the rest of the Kuiper belt. Scott S. Sheppard: Carnegie Institution for Science
An artist's rendition of the ExoMars rover and its drill. ESA
An artist's rendition of the ExoMars rover and its drill. ESA
"State-based conflicts" include any conflict between governments, a government and an opposing group, or a government and its people. State-based conflict deaths have been dropping, in general, since World War II. Human Security Report 2013
Some families have a high net worth, but not a lot of cash to ride out bumps. Stan Dalone & Miran Rijavec
Organized-crime related killings in Mexico are one of the few places where death rates are rising. Here, Mexico's gang-related violence is compared to deaths in three other countries. Human Security Report 2013
Most non-state conflicts are taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, though there has been a recent rise in the Americas. Human Security Report 2013
The decline in non-state based conflict deaths is taking place even though the incidence of non-state conflict seems to be rising. This suggests that even though there is more fighting, fewer people are dying. Human Security Report 2013
Non-state conflicts are between armed groups where neither is a government. Non-state conflict deaths have been going up a little bit, but the scale is far, far lower than the decline in state-based conflict deaths. Human Security Report 2013

The world is getting safer, at least so far as people killing other people is concerned. Globally, says a new report from the Human Security Report Project, deaths from war—either between state powers or by a government against its people—have been generally in decline since the end of World War II. The report:

During 2012—the most recent year for which there are data—the number of conflicts being waged around the world dropped sharply, from 37 to 32. High–intensity conflicts have declined by more than half since the end of the Cold War, while terrorism, genocide and homicide numbers are also down.

The report, says Fast Company, “counts wars and war deaths (international and civil), murders, and other violence (including political coups), and compares the numbers historically.”

It shows, for example, that the number of international wars has fallen hard since the 1950s (from more than six a year, to less than one a year now).

Likewise, the number of war deaths has also plummeted. In the 1950s, there were almost 250 deaths caused by war per million people. Now, there are less than 10 per million. "There are have been some pretty extraordinary changes and they haven't been recognized," Mack says. Military leaders, for example, say we live in the "most dangerous time ever." And yet, in statistical terms at least, this isn't remotely true.

The recent rise of organized crime-related killings has made up for he drop in state-based conflicts, to some extent But the difference in magnitude between these events and the atrocities of war means that, on the whole, the recent uptick in murders hasn't erased the improvements elsewhere.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.