Global Political Violence: Explaining the Post-Cold War Decline
Andrew Mack
March 31, 2007

In this ongoing series of Working Papers, the International Peace Academy has asked leading experts to undertake a mapping exercise, presenting an assessment of critical challenges to human and international security.

Andrew Mack, Director of the Human Security Centre, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, analyzes some surprising trends in political violence since the end of World War II, focusing on the decline in the number and deadliness of armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War. Mack argues that the decline in armed conflicts is best explained by the upsurge of peacemaking and peacebuilding activities since the early 1990s, spearheaded by the UN. Mack concludes that the incidence of genocides and ‘politicides’, in which governments attack their own civilians, has declined in recent years – but international terrorism has seen a dramatic resurgence in the Middle East and South Asia. Despite this apparent ‘good news,’ Mack warns, there is little room for complacency, given the intractability of many conflicts worldwide, and the possibility of reversion to armed conflict in many cases. The best case scenario would require the international community to adopt policies promoting rising incomes (a key correlate to peace), long-term normative change, and reducing incentives to go to war. (Source:

Click here to download the full working paper.