Measuring Systemic Peace
Perhaps, the most important, and challenging, task for the peace researcher is to establish and maintain a systematic perspective on the general condition of peace in the global system. Without that, progress toward greater peace can not be gauged and social policies can not be properly evaluated. Measuring systemic peace is a necessarily holistic endeavor. Peace is an absolute term and, therefore, a universal condition. The quality of peace can not be improved simply by displacing violence and war to a different setting, or separate category, or by concentrating misfortunes with the less fortunate (ghetto-ization). At the "state-level of analysis" this distinguishes peace from war (and "not-war"), which is a conditional event, and security and insecurity, which are relative terms. At the more general "individual-level of analysis" the quality of peace contrasts directly with the total incidence of violence in the global system, that is, a "human security" perspective. There are many dimensions to violence but only a few are currently measureable at the holistic, global level. The most prominent dimension of violence is lethal violence, and the most dramatic form of lethal violence is organized, military action, or war. Much of what we know about the systemic qualities of peace derives originally from the classic study of inter-state war. More recently, systematic research in organized violence has expanded to cover internal uses of organized violence, that is, situations where organized violence takes place within the sovereign boundaries of a "state." However, it has only been with the advent of the 20th century's "world wars" that the problem of organized violence has been extended beyond the immediate, dyadic focus of research to the regional and global foci. Globalization is not simply an economic process but, rather, the term for the technological movement away from the dyadic analysis of "independent events" toward complex, inter-dependent, "systems analysis." The most fundamental questions for peace researchers at the present time include: "What is the general quality of peace and is it improving, stagnating, or deteriorating?" Where, and under what conditions, is organized violence most likely to occur?" "How do we understand the quality of peace in its many systemic variations, both successes and failures?"
Complex, societal systems defy comprehension but they are not immeasureable. Information and communication resources and technologies continue to improve and, as a result, there are some very general observations concerning the quality of the peace that can be made with reasonable confidence. The ending of the Second World War in 1945 provides a good beginning point for measuring the general quality of the peace. It also marks a turning point in the ways that information is generated, collected, and distributed. The rise of the independent media has been crucial in establishing a more objective perspective on the human condition and it is probably no accident that the rise of the independent media has paralleled a global trend toward greater democracy, the so-called "third wave of democratization."
The following charts provide both contextual and dynamic bases for evaluating the quality of peace. They are constructed from information covering all countries in the world with populations greater than 500,000 persons in 2013 (167 countries in 2013; South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 and Luxembourg reached the population threshold in 2012). Much of the data used in the following analyses is now available on the CSP INSCR Data Page. The theoretical foundations for the systemic peace perspective are explained in Monty G. Marshall, Third World War: System, Process, and Conflict Dynamics (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999). The methodology for measuring armed conflicts is explained in greater detail in Monty G. Marshall, "Measuring the Societal Impact of War," in Fen Osler Hampson and David M. Malone, eds., From Reaction to Conflict Prevention: Opportunities for the UN System (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2002). Further analyses of conflict trends are published in the CSP Global Report series; for the most recent edition, see Monty G. Marshall and Benjamin R. Cole, Global Report 2011: Conflict, Governance, and State Fragility, Vienna, VA: Center for Systemic Peace, 2011. Earlier societal-systems analyses are published in the Global Report (2007) and Peace and Conflict series (2001, 2003, 2005). Most CSP publications can be found in the CSP Virtual Library.
Click on the Figures below
to view them in a larger size.
Researchers at the Center for Systemic Peace have been monitoring
general, global system performance since the Center was established
in 1997. Of course, the global system itself is unique. However, our
extensive systems analysis strongly suggests that societal-systems at
all levels of organization share fundamental systemic attributes, involving
both structure and agency. Using macro-comparative methods of "cross-national"
and "comparative regionalism" research, we have observed strong
and consistent correlations among qualities of conflict, governance,
and development in societal-systems. Well-performing societal-systems
combine non-violent conflict, democratic governance, and highly productive
and self-sustaining development. Poor-performing societal systems are
characterized by high levels of violent conflict, weak autocratic or
anocratic governance, and low productivity and income. Plotting the
distribution of income among constituent units in a societal-system,
using a Lorenz curve, provides a single, and in this case stark, portrayal
of the prospects of the system for conflict management in the near term.
The area between the "diagonal of equality" and the "curve
of inequality" measures the extent of the unequal distribution
of income. The curve in Figure 1 reveals that the top 20% of the world's
population receives over 80% of the income, an almost perfect inequality
of income distribution and an enormous challenge for global governance,
conflict management, and globalization (such highly unequal systems
tend toward autocratic forms of conflict management). Slight improvement
in 2005 income distribution over 1992 is accounted largely by the emergence
of China in the global market. To view a more detailed analysis of the
"Global System and Comparative Regionalism," including regional
income distribution profiles, click
here. See also, chapter six in Third World
The red-line charts the trend in general level of interstate war in the global system; that measure includes all wars of independence from the Colonial System and has remained fairly constant at a low level through the Cold War period. We can see from the graph that the UN System, that was designed to regulate inter-state war, has been reasonably effective in providing inter-state security. However, the UN System has not been effective in regulating societal (or civil) warfare. The level of societal warfare increased dramatically and continuously through the Cold War period. Separate research indicates that the increasing level of societal war results from the protractedness of societal wars during this period and not from a substantial increase in the numbers of new wars.Click here for a brief description of the methodology used to create the trend graph.
The end of the Cold War, marked by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, had an equally dramatic effect on the general level of armed conflict in the global system. The levels of both interstate and societal warfare declined dramatically through the 1990s and this trend continues in the early 2000s, falling over 60% from their peak levels. To review the complete listing, "Major Episodes of Political Violence, 1946-2013," used to construct the warfare trends, click here. You may also view regional trends graphs by clicking here.
A second look at the global trend in armed conflict comes from charting the number of states experiencing any form of warfare in each year. Figure 4 charts three different metrics but the trends that emerge remain consistent with those charted in Figure 3. At the peak in 1992, nearly thirty percent of the countries in the world were experiencing some form of major political violence (29.9%). The percentage of the world's independent states with major episodes of political violence (with total population greater than 500,000 in 2013) dropped by more than one-half since the end of the Cold War, registering at just over 13% in 2010. Increasing violence in the Middle East and the Sahel region of Africa has contributed to a leveling of the post-Cold War trend since the beginning of the "Global War on Terror" in the early 2000s.
A third perspective on the global trend in armed conflict focuses on
the annual numbers of onsets of new wars in the global system to examine
their frequency and regularity and whether there have been marked changes
in those factors over time. Figure 5 charts three additional metrics:
Whereas Figure 4 looks at the annual number of states directly affected
by (any number of) armed conflicts, Figure 6a charts the annual number
of ongoing armed conflicts in the global system (overlaid on the onset
trend data from Figure 5). This perspective on global trends in armed
conflict largely parallels the charted trends in war magnitude and number
of states affected, however, this measure shows some evidence that the
downward global trend in armed conflicts has leveled off in the early
years of the 21st Century. In early 2014, there are 24 states directly
affected by ongoing wars (32 wars total, up from 27 at the end of 2002).
Of these 24 states, more than half (13) are affected by protracted wars,
that is, armed conflicts persisting for more than ten years. These protracted
societal conflicts include Afghanistan (33 years), Colombia (36), D.R.Congo
(19), India (59), Iraq (31), Israel (46), Myanmar (63), Nigeria (14),
Pakistan (14), Philippines (39), Somalia (23), Sudan (28), and Turkey
(27); Sri Lanka ended its protracted war with ethnic-Tamil separatists
in 2009. The remaining protracted wars continue to defy concerted efforts
to gain settlement or resolution, although several of these conflicts have diminished substantially in magnitude in recent years. On average, during the contemporary
period, interstate wars lasted about 3 years; civil wars lasted just
over 5 years; and ethnic wars lasted nearly 10 years.
Figure 6b takes a step back in time to add perspective to the contemporary period and what we have termed the "Third World War" by comparing it to the almost inconceivable magnitude of devastation that occurred during the Second World War. Modern, professional warfare conducted by the full coterie of the world's most technologically and economically advanced countries has been estimated to have resulted in the deaths of about 24 million formal combatants and nearly 50 million non-combatants over the seven year duration of the Second World War (the graph simply averages the estimated total global deaths of the war over the seven-year span). We know of no systematic estimates of the numbers of "informal combatants" killed during the war so we assume that these deaths are included with the noncombatant estimates. The efforts of "partisan" fighters to target authorities and weaken and disrupt war support activities behind enemy lines were significant and may account for up to ten percent of the noncombatant death figures but we can only speculate of the real numbers of fighters killed as a result of local rebellions. On the Eastern European and Eastern Asian fronts, informal fighters fought along side formal military units and are probably included in the "formal combatant" death estimates as these areas were the least "formally developed" regions involved in the warfare and experienced the highest total numbers of deaths (e.g., China and the Soviet Union).
Figure 6c removes the Second World War period from the global trend graph so we can focus on changes that have occurred during the contemporary period. We have to assume that the Second World War was a "watershed" event in modern global development that marks the end of warfare among the world's most advanced countries because, if its not such a "watershed event" and given the ever increasing technological and economic capacities of the world's most developed countries, the next global war will mark the end of human civilization. Contemporary warfare trends certainly display evidence that "formal" (or classic) warfare between states is no longer the dominant form of political violence and may even be "managed" by the conventions and institutions that have come to characterize the "United Nations System." Unfortunately, the observed diminution of formal warfare may be an artifact of the first two World War experiences that can be summed up by the adage "once burnt, twice shy." The experience of warfare is known to dampen enthusiasm for that kind of activity in directly affected populations, at least temporarily. A second adage warning us that "war is most seductive to those with no experience of it" should serve to as a reminder to maintain vigilence. Indeed, many of the regions most affected by warfare during the contemporary period are those which were not directly affected by the earlier World Wars. The full imapct of "amateur warfare" in the world's lesser developed countries is difficult to assess because it affects highly vulnerable populations in economically poor and technologically backward regions. The "Third World War" appears to be characterized by periodic outbursts (spikes) of extreme violence; the principle victims appear to be civilians caught up in the existential struggle to survive under challenging circumstances (87% of estimated annual deaths from political violence since the year 2000). It appears that ever smaller numbers of combatants are losing their lives while the devastation of warfare remains a continual problem.
Figure 6d adds a slightly more encouraging perspective to the global trend graph of deaths from political violence by examining the trend as a "death rate" rather than simply charting annual numbers of deaths over time. The world's population is growing relatively rapidly while the numbers of deaths during the contemporary period seem to remain fairly constant (except for the periodic spikes). Once we control for global population growth (red dashed line), we can see that the annual "death rate per million population" from political violence is diminishing over the contemporary period (red solid line), from about 215 per million in 1946 to about 35 per million in 2011. The spikes of violence also appear to be happening less frequently (or this is an illusion and the pattern simply indicates that we are due for another spike). In any case, we can not discount the importance of global development and the due diligence of conflict management and prevention efforts; they are our best hope for a better future.
Figure 7 graphs the annual numbers of transnational refugees (including asylum seekers) and internally displaced civilians for all countries, as reported in the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) annual series World Refugee Survey (the most recent edition, 2009, counts displaced populations as of December 31, 2008). Beginning with the 2007 edition, the USCRI no longer reports figures for "internally displaced populations" (IDPs); estimates of IDPs are now reported annually by The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. The enormous increase in the global population of forcibly displaced persons beginning in the mid-1980s is difficult to ascertain. There are surely some reporting issues involved but it appears that the magnitude of the increase may be best explained by a confluence of at least four factors: 1) armed conflicts are more likely to be located in poorer countries; 2) the protractedness of societal conflicts progressively challenges the ability of societies to meet and maintain basic needs production; 3) there is a breakdown in distinctions between combatants and non-combatant populations; and 4) there is a tremendous expansion in the numbers and capacities of non-governmental organizations willing to provide humanitarian assistance to war-torn societies.
Figure 8 presents a comparision of warfare trends in the bottom three
quintiles countries, based on state economic capacity (GDP/capita) across
the study period. Wheras the "long peace" enjoyed by the world's more
affluent states is strikingly evident in Figure 9, below, this figure
shows that war became concentrated in the bottom two quintiles of states
(i.e., the weakest 40 percent). The poorer countries account for a disproportionate
share of the global warfare totals across the period. Warfare totals
for the bottom three quintiles of states increase steadily through the
contemporary period, reaching their peaks in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The poorest quintiles each show distinctive profiles and high levels
of armed conflict that increase during the Cold War period and drop
sharply around the end of the Cold War (marked by the vertical line).
At the peak, over half of the poorer countries are consumed by societal
warfare. What distinguishes the lowest quintile is the persistence of
high levels of warfare through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This
may be explained simply by pointing out that they have more fragile
societal systems, more vulnerable populations, and lower capacities
for properly managing conflicts than countries in the higher quintiles.
This helps to explain the perceived dramatic increase in serious humanitarian
crises in the 1990s. Pervasive violence and societal system breakdowns
in poorly developed countries inevitably lead to humanitarian crises
and disasters without substantial, constructive assistance from external
sources and poor countries have trouble attracting such assistance.
Comparing these trends with similar plots based on state economic capacity
in the early years of the study period (our prior method) shows evidence
of the degrading effects of pervasive warfare on economic capacity:
armed conflict tends to occur in poorer countries and tends to keep
them poor and make them poorer over time.
Figure 9 displays the warfare totals for the top three quintiles of state capacity (the third quintile is included to facilitate comparison with the bottom quintiles presented in Figure 8). Readily apparent are the much lower levels of warfare in the upper quintiles. Especially fortunate are the states in the upper quintile where little or no serious political violence takes place for the entire time span; their involvement in armed conflicts are mainly in the role of "police action" in foreign wars, particularly in "internationalized civil wars." Of course, this good fortune at home, coupled with the complexities of foreign interventions, go a long way to explaining the difficulty of mobilizing "political will" in the richer countries to recognize, let alone meaningfully address, the complex problems associated with armed conflicts in the poorer countries.
Ethnic warfare became the hot topic in the years immediately following
the end of the Cold War as a virtual cornucopia of these seemingly intractable
(and previously "invisible") social identity conflicts exploded onto
the world scene and captured public and policy eyes. In order to more
fully assess the impact and importance of ethnic conflict in the post-Cold
War period it is helpful to place that particular type of societal conflict
into its global systemic context. Figure 10 compares trends for three
distinct types of warfare, ethnic, revolutionary, and inter-state (including
"extra-systemic" or anti-colonial wars). The perceived "sudden
rise" in ethnic wars in the 1990s appears to be a curious outcropping
of more general, systemic changes. As the Cold War ideologies wax and
wane in the late 1980s, the support they lend to both inter-state and
revolutionary intra-state wars is eroded and those types of warfare
greatly diminish. The ethnic war trend, which had previously paralleled
the trend of revolutionary war, continues to rise through the late 1980s
and early 1990s as separatists and other political entrepreneurs attempt
to take advantage of the vast changes in political arrangements that
accompanied the transformation of the post-Cold War world system. Ethnic
wars stand out like a "sore thumb" in the 1990s' security environment.
Also, notice that the long-term trend in ethnic warfare increases relatively
smoothly as compared to the other warfare trends. As the goals of social
identity (ethnic) conflicts are suffused with non-negotiable symbolic
issues, these conflicts are less susceptible to settlement or resolution
by warfare and, so, tend to persist and/or re-emerge over time. Thus,
ethnic warfare trends are less ammenable to periodic fluctuation. Also,
notice that the sharply decreasing trend in ethnic warfare of the 1990s
has leveled off since the turn of the century.
Figure 11 simply sums Polity IV scores of institutional authority for democracy and autocracy for each independent state for each year; Polity IV special codes (-66, -77, -88) are treated as missing data here. In the Polity IV data each country is given annual scores (10-point scales) on each of two basic types of regime authority. Although the two types of authority are opposing, many countries exhibit mixed authority traits (i.e., they have middling values on each scale). The graph in Figure 11 shows global changes in total "units of democracy" in contrast to total "units of autocracy" in the global system.
Figure 12a provides a long-term assessment of global trends in the qualities of governance, covering the period from 1800 to 2012. We can see that the independent countries of the world during the 19th century numbered only 22 in 1800 and grew to 55 by 1850; regimes by the middle of the 19th century were about evenly split between fully institutionalized monarchies (i.e., autocracies) and newly emerging countries which were mainly mixed or "incoherent" authority regimes (i.e., anocracies). The numbers of democratic regimes can be seen to increase very slowly during the latter half of the 19th century through the end of First World War, when there was a relatively rapid increase in their number. This increase in the number of democracies following the First World War was reversed during the Great Depression and undone by the onset of the Second World War; this time period marks the only reversal in the steady increase of democratic governance since 1800. The end of the Second World War is charcterized by an enormous increase in the number of newly independent countries brought about by the collapse of the European Colonial System; these newly emerging countries, although initially split among autocratic, anocratic, and democratic regimes, quickly adopted mainly autocratic forms of governance. The end of the Cold War period in the late 1980s marks the collapse of the "new autocratic regimes" and a transformation of old autocratic regimes to more democratic forms.
Figure 12b provides a second perspective on the global trend in governance. This graph was originally designed for inclusion in the UN Secretary General's Millennium Report. It uses Polity IV data on institutional authority for all independent states in the world from 1946-2012. The trend lines denote the annual number of states with each of three general authority patterns: democracy, autocracy, and anocracy. The Polity score combines the separate Autocracy and Democracy scores mentioned above into a single indicator of governance, ranging from -10 (fully institutionalized autocracy) to +10 (fully institutionalized democracy). In this rendition, Democracies are designated by having a Polity score of +6 or greater; Autocratic states have a combined score of -6 or less. Anocracies are a middling category of states with incoherent or inconsistent authority patterns: partly liberal, partly authoritarian (i.e., -5 to +5 on the Polity scale). The Anocracy category also includes countries with any of the three special Polity codes: -66 (interruption), -77 (interregnum), and -88 (transition). Anocracies are relatively vulnerable and volatile states that often lack effective institutions and/or the capacities to establish and maintain social order.
Figure 13 charts the relationship between a regime's Polity
score and the likelihood of onset of a political instability event.
The Political Instability Task Force (PITF) identifies four categories
of instability events: 1) an "adverse regime change" (defined
by a sudden five point or more drop in a state's Polity score
or a collapse of central authority); 2) a "revolutionary war"
pitting a non-state challenger against state forces and resulting in
1000 or more "battle-related deaths"; 3) an "ethnic war"
pitting a distinct ethnic group against the state, also, resulting in
1000 deaths of more; and 4) a genocide or politicide defined as the
deliberate use of lethal violence by state agents against members of
a distinct social or political group by state. CSP includes a fifth
category of instability event, a "major democratic transition,"
identified by the weakening or reform of autocratic authority and defined
by a sudden five point or more drop in a state's (Polity) Autocracy
score. Figure 13, then, plots the likelihood of the onset of an instability
event for each value along the 21-point Polity scale; it further
demarcates the three categories of regime type on the scale. The magenta
line plots the annual likelihood
for an onset from any of the full, five categories described above (including
democratic transitions); the dark blue line
plots the annual likelihood of onset for any of the four PITF
categories. The teal line plots
the annual likelihood of the onset of a period of political instability
(i.e., a "consolidated case" within which there may be one
or more instability events covering a continuous period of time during
which there is never more than a five-year span of political stability);
onsets for this set of cases can only occur in a year of political stability,
so, the likelihood for this set is determined by a reduced set of "stability
years." Regardless of the definition of "instability,"
Anocracies (-5 to +5 on the Polity score) clearly have the greatest
risk of instability, while autocracies and unconsolidated democracies
have a lesser, yet still substantial, risk. Fully institutionized democracies
(+10 on the Polity scale) are associated with the lowest risk
of onset of a political instability event, by far. By discounting instability
"caused" by democratic transitions in autocracies, an impression
that autocracies are similarly, or even more, stable as compared with
democracies. Autocracies are seven to ten times more likely to experience
an onset of instability compared with "fully institutionalized
democracies" (+10 on the Polity scale). Note that these plots are
smoothed by using three-category averages; this reflects the estimated
error in the Polity measure (+/-1 point); dashed lines plot onsets using
the POLITY2 score which assigns standard scores to -88 and -77 cases.
Whereas Figures 11 and 12, above, clearly show the evidence of a "third
wave" of democratization that coincides with the end of the Cold
War and the general decline in global armed conflict (Figure 3), Figure
12 also shows a nearly three-fold increase in the numbers of "anocratic"
(hybrid) authority regimes. Our research and, particularly, the PITF
research have shown that anocratic regimes have the highest risk of
political instability (Figure 13). The simultaneous and dramatic increase
in anocratic regimes in the global system and decrease in global armed
conflict, especially in light of the unchanged rate of onset for armed
conflict events, appears to present a paradox, or at least a conundrum.
Anocracies seem to have a lower, or slower, risk of instability in the
post-Cold War world. Figure 14 reveals another piece in the puzzle by
comparing the general relationship between per capita income
and regime type for the two decades just prior to and after the
end of the Cold War (i.e., the 1980s, left side, and 1990s, right side).
The linear relationship between societal-system development (measured
by GDP/capita) and mode of governance has broken down in the later period
and countries in the lower three quartiles of income appear to be having
trouble establishing and consolidating democratic authority. Premature
democratization in poorer countries poses unique challenges for the
With the global "War on Terrorism" holding our attention
since the infamous 9/11 al Qaeda attacks on the territorial isolation
and icons of US global power, interest has often focused on discontent,
hosility, and militancy in the "Muslim World." The question
arises whether the general trend in armed conflict in the "Muslim
World" differs from the trend in the "non-Muslim world."
Figure 15 presents a graphic comparison of armed conflict trends in
three subsets of the world's countries: 1) countries with Muslim majorities
(red line); 2) countries with substantial Muslim minorities (greater
than 5% of the population; green line); and 3) non-Muslim countries
(purple dotted line). The Muslim majority countries account for about
one-sixth the world's population. The Western democracies of Europe
and North America have experienced very little armed conflict, on their
territory, during the contemporary period and, so, this subset of countries
and global population (about one-sixth) can be discounted from the trends
graphs. The other two subsets represented in the graph account for roughly
equal portions of the global population (about two-sixths each). With
this in mind, we can see from the graphs that the armed conflict trend
for Muslim majority countries (about one-half the population of non-Muslim/non-Western
countries) runs at about one-half the magnitude for the non-Muslim countries
until the late 1970s, making the two subsets roughly equal in levels
of armed conflict during this period. However, the trend in Muslim majority
countries increases very sharply in the late 1970s and early 1980s and
very quickly surpasses the level for non-Muslim countries (making the
Muslim countries about twice as likely as non-Muslim countries to experience
armed conflict until about 2001 when this likelihood doubles once again
to about four times as likely). On the other hand, armed conflict in
the Muslim minority countries is substantially lower than that in the
non-Muslim countries until the late 1980s, even though they are roughly
comparable in population. All three trends have diminished in recent
years and are now, in 2013, at levels between 69% (non-Muslim), 63%
(Muslim minority), and 57% (Muslim majority) lower than their respective
peaks. Of particular concern is the divergent, upward trend in armed
conflicts in Muslim majority countries in the most recent decade.
Figures 16 and 17 draw upon data provided by the RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents (RDWTI; www.rand.org/nsrd/projects/terrorism-incidents.html) in order to chart contemporary trends in international terrorism. The RDWTI is one of two comprehensive compilations of international terrorism events; the other being the ITERATE database. Figure 16 shows a general decrease in the numbers of attacks during the decade following the end of the Cold War and, except for the spike in 1991, a fairly staedy decline from 1985 through 2000; this trend is corroborated by similar analyses of the ITERATE data. The incidence of attacks increases substantially in the post-9/11 period but remains generally lower than the rate during the peak of such activity in the 1980s. RAND provides the following definitions of these events:
Terrorism: "For the purposes of data, terrorism is defined
by the nature of the act, not by the identity of the perpetrators or
the nature of the cause. Terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence,
calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm. These acts are
designed to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake,
or refrain from actions they desired to take. All terrorist acts are
crimes. Many would also be violation of the rules of war if a state
of war existed. This violence or threat of violence is generally directed
against civilian targets. The motives of all terrorists are political,
and terrorist actions are generally carried out in a way that will achieve
maximum publicity. Unlike other criminal acts, terrorists often claim
credit for their acts. Finally, terrorist acts are intended to produce
effects beyond the immediate physical damage of the cause, having long-term
psychological repercussions on a particular target audience. The fear
created by terrorists may be intended to cause people to exaggerate
the strengths of the terrorist and the importance of the cause, to provoke
governmental overreaction, to discourage dissent, or simply to intimidate
and thereby enforce compliance with their demands."
Figure 17, then, uses the RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents
(RDWTI) to chart the annual numbers of deaths that resulted from the
attacks charted in Figure 16 above. One can immediately see the extraordinary
anomaly represented by the 9/11 attacks on the USA; these four attacks
in New York City, Washington DC, and Somerset County PA account for
2,982 deaths (all but 202 of the death total in 2001). The average number
of deaths in the sixteen years prior to the peak in 2001 (1985-2000)
is 341; the average for the seven years following 2001 is 582, nearly
sixty percent greater than the average for the earlier period. Still,
these annual totals are extremely low when compared to other forms of
political or criminal violence. The CSP study on "Global Terrorism:
An Overview and Analysis" proposes that "international terrorism"
accounts for less than ten percent of global terrorism since 1990; the
vast majority of global terrorism is local, or national, terrorism.
The rates for international terrorism are further qualified by tremendous
increases in international activity that have accompanied "globalization"
and the post-Cold War expansion of the free market system. It appears
that international terrorism is an a fairly constant attribute of globalization;
however, it appears that the technologies of terrorism, and willingness
to use lethal violence, have changed in the opening decade of the 21st
Figure 18 provides a unique examination of recent, global trends in
"high casualty terrorist bombings" (HCTB; that is, bombings
that result in 15 or more deaths); each bar charts the total number
of HCTB deaths in successive six-month periods pre- and post-9/11/2001.
While the frequency and lethality of "international terrorism"
does not appear to have increased much in recent years and, in any case,
remains at extremely low levels when compared with any other form of
political or criminal violence, the tactical use of "low-tech,
smart bombs" (mainly car bombs and suicide bombers) against "soft
targets" (mainly political and civilian targets) has increased
dramatically since the 9/11 attacks (in which 2,982 people were killed).
However, most of the increase is these "high profile" terrorist
attacks have been confined to a handful of localities: Russia, Afghanistan,
India, Pakistan, and, especially, Iraq. While the rise of the "super-empowered
terrorist" as an innovation in tactical or criminal violence is
certainly a disturbing trend, the evidence shows that it remains an
extreme and relatively isolated event. HCTB attacks have killed more
than 31,852 people since 9/11 compared with 3,691 people killed during
the period prior to 9/11; over half of the post-9/11 killings have taken
place in Iraq (18,022; 57%). While HCTB attacks in Iraq decreased
dramatically beginning in September 2007, they have remained at high levels and spiked once again in the twelve months ending in March 2014
(averaging 1206, up from 319 in the previous period). HCTB attacks in Pakistan have
increased substantially since 2007 and such attacks have spread during the past 30 months to other Muslim-majority countries (e.g., Lebanon, Nigeria, Somalia, and Syria) and Muslim regions in other countries (e.g., China and India). Note:
Armed assaults on non-combatant targets that rely mainly on firearms
or other hand-held weapons are not included in this compilation. The
numbers of deaths attributed to such "death squad" activities
often far surpasses the death totals of the HCTB events recorded here.
Effective conflict management and, therefore, systemic peace result
from a fundamental congruence between societal-system resilience and
the systemic risk factors that would otherwise "trigger" contention
and "fuel" the escalation to violence. Global Report
2011 includes a detailed assessment of "state fragility"
for each of the world's major countries (with populations greater
than 500,000) that comprises a 2x4 matrix of indicators (effectiveness
and legitimacy indicators for security, governance, economic, and social
dimensions of state performance) rated on a scale of 0 (no fragility)
to 3 (high fragility). The economic effectiveness indicator includes
an extra "extreme" value (4) identifying countries locked
in extreme poverty, defined as GDP/capita less than $400. These eight
indicators are, then, summed to form composite indices of (il)legitimacy
and (in)effectiveness; the comprehensive "state fragility index"
combines these two key indices. Figure 19 shows a concentration of extremely,
highly, and seriously fragile states in Africa and across southern Asia.
Fragility in the Western Hemisphere is less severe and concentrated
in Central and in north and central South America. We find that there
has been steady improvement in general resilience in the global system
since 1995 (the global mean score has fallen from 10.92 in 1995 to 8.51
in 2012) with similar, absolute improvement in the five non-Western
world regions; however, the "resilience gap" has been maintained
in relative terms.
Click here to view the full listing of 2012 State Fragility scores for 167 countries.
The full, annual State Fragility time-series data (1995-2012) is available on the INSCR Data Page.
Regional Trends in Armed Conflict and Governance, 1946-2010
and governance trends are now updated
The Armed Conflict and Intervention (ACI) and Polity IV projects are core projects at the Center for Systemic Peace. Both the ACI and Polity IV projects are directed by Monty G. Marshall. The Polity IV project codes annual data on Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions over the period 1800-2010 for all countries in the world with populations over 500,000 in the most recent year recorded (2010). For more information, click here.
The ACI project codes levels of violence in all types of major armed conflicts in the world during the period 1946-2011. Major armed conflicts involve at least 500 fatalities and may be of any type: inter-state or intra-state; they include all episodes of international, civil, ethnic, communal, and genocidal violence and warfare. Episodes are coded on a scale of one to seven according to an assessment of the full impact of their violence on the societies that directly experience their effects; the effects of political violence and warfare include fatalities and casualties, resource depletion, destruction of infrastructure, and population dislocations, among other things such as the psychological trauma to individuals and adverse changes to the social psychology and political culture of affected social identity groups. The resulting categories represent standardized event magnitudes based on levels of societal affect (i.e., a measure of the general magnitude that a society's normal networking and functioning is affected by violent disruption); the categories are considered comparative units of measurement. Global and regional trends in warfare are visualized graphically by aggregating the coded scores for all ongoing episodes of major armed conflict in a given year in all independent states. For a more detailed explanation of the coding methodology, click here. CSP presents the global and regional warfare trends graphs with great confidence in their accuracy, reliability, and comprehensiveness and contends that the foundation for the trends (i.e., the global system) provides a constant "universe of analysis" through the contemporary period. To review the complete listing, "Major Episodes of Political Violence, 1946-2011," used to construct the warfare trends, click here. The ACI project also produces the annual lists of Internal Wars and Failures of Governance used by the US Government-sponsored State Failure Task Force (now renamed the Political Instability Task Force). For more information on the data resources and ongoing research of the Task Force, click here.
Although the general global trend in armed conflict continues to decrease in the early years of the 21st century, there are some counter-trends that should be acknowledged: