Armed conflicts worldwide have decreased 40 percent since [the early '90s], proving that globalization's recent and rapid spread around the world has not led to more state-on-state wars. In fact, such wars have essentially disappeared. Instead, what we are left with falls almost exclusively into the category of intra-state mass violence, including governments battling non-state actors, civil strife among non-state actors, and civil conflicts that sometimes attract interventions by great powers and the U.N.
This is from last year's Report from the Human Security Resource Project of Canada's Simon Fraser University. Rather bizarrely this year's report goes on to show that the lethal effect of these 'intra-state wars' is more than mitigated by improvements elsewhere:
...when it comes to chronic conflicts in the world's developing regions, "nationwide mortality rates actually fall during most wars." That's not to imply that warfare is good or improves mortality rates, but rather to note that intrastate conflicts have become so shrunken in their impact and lethality that their negative byproducts (i.e., indirect deaths by disease and malnutrition) are consistently overwhelmed by society-wide advances in these realms, in large part thanks to international aid focused on health care (especially early childhood care).
And wars are smaller despite the planet's population almost tripling since the '50s:
The average war in the 1950s killed 10,000 people a year and ran for 3 to 4 years, yielding an average cumulative "direct death" total of 33,000 lives. By contrast, the average war today lasts less than a year and yields an annual average of roughly 1,000 direct deaths.
We used to have football matches that were more lethal. So why is there less war? And why is what is left less deadly? A pithy summary: the interconnectedness of globalisation, pax Americana, health care improvements and humanitarian aid. Read the whole thing for more detail. I've also written before about why we should be more positive about the now, people.
(BTW, if you're interested in global strategy keep up with the excellent blog of the clean-cut, no-nonsense, probably-smokes-a-pipe Thomas PM Barnett (right)).