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News of Global Violence Decrease Travels Slowly
an article by Tony Dominski

Contrary to media reports and public opinion, the world is advancing towards peace. This is the surprising conclusion of the Human Security Report 2005: "War and Peace in the 21st Century" authored by the Human Security Centre based at the University of British Columbia. The Report took three years to complete, and was funded by Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden.

Even with recent ugly conflicts e.g., Bosnia, Iraq and Darfur, violence has actually declined significantly since the end of the Cold War. The Report concluded that the best explanation for this decline is the huge upsurge of conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding activities that were spearheaded by the United Nations in the aftermath of the Cold War. Other potential contributing factors included the rise in global anti-war sentiment, greater respect for human rights, formation of new democracies, and global economic interdependence.

With the decline of wars between nations, people are relatively more threatened by internal conflicts within their own country. For this reason, The Human Security Centre focuses on the interrelated threats of civil war, genocide and the displacement of populations.

Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Centre, stated that the recent trend towards peace has attracted only a little media attention because the global media give far more coverage to wars that start than those that quietly end. Also, there is no international agency which collects global or regional data on any form of violence. Unfortunately, the groundbreaking 2005 Human Security report has received little media attention outside of Mr. Mack's commentary in the Washington Post.

For further reading, the Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia gives a eye-opening historical summary of contrasting views on how world peace might be achieved.


Question(s) related to this article:

How can peacemakers make peace more newsworthy?,

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Latest reader comment:

I am convinced that this is a key question for the peace movement, because it concerns the consciousness of people.  Consciousness is key for tipping the balance at key moments of radical change in history, and increasingly in our times the consciousness of people is determined by what they see and read in the mass media.

This was also the conclusion of many organizations in their remarks for the Civil Society Report to the UN at the midpoint of the culture of peace decade.

There is an interesting bright spot,  however.  The conferences on tourism for a culture of peace that are organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) have gotten good press in the countries where the conferences are held.  The reason is simple.  Tourism is big business in these countries and the IIPT can get the top political personalities to give speeches, which also brings good press coverage.

I think there are important lessons here for the peace movement.  We need to link peace to business and through business to the government and media.  Tourism for a culture of peace is an excellent example, but others may be possible possible as well, for example, sports and entertainment.

This report was posted on February 3, 2006.