media release

Study supports decline in global violence

March 03, 2014

Andrew Mack, Human Security Report Project, 604.803.3548 (cell in New York),
Scott McLean, SFU Vancouver, 778.782.5151,

A new study by the Simon Fraser University-based Human Security Report Project (HSRP), released today at United Nations headquarters in New York, offers compelling evidence that, post-World War II, there is a significant decline in the frequency and deadliness of armed conflict.

The report demonstrates a rapid decline in international wars over the past 60 years. In fact, the average number of international wars being fought each year has shrunk dramatically, from over six in the 1950s, to less than one during the 2000s.

“This matters because international wars kill far more people on average than do the far more numerous civil wars,” says HSRP director Andrew Mack.

The report also states that while the total number of armed conflict types (i.e. not only international wars) have increased threefold from the 1950s to the end of the Cold War, most of those conflicts were low-intensity civil wars with relatively modest fatality counts.

From the early 1990s, until present day, overall conflict numbers have dropped 40 per cent, while the deadliest conflicts, those that kill at least 1000 people per year, have declined by more than half. 

The study also proposes that organized criminal violence is contributing to the increasingly high murder rates in Latin and Central America. Gang murders in Mexico, most drug-related, increased six-fold between 2006 until 2011, while the murder rate in Mexico was greater than the death toll from combat in Afghanistan, Sudan, or Iraq.

The complete study is available online.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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