New Developments in Warfare: Is the World Becoming More Peaceful?


Professor Timo Kivimaki, University of Bath

17 October 2017


Over the course of history we can see a trend of declining conflict violence. Even the most belligerent periods of modern times endanger people less than pre-historical times when up to 15% of people met with violent deaths according to forensic archaeology. This trend of declining conflict fatalities has been associated with the expansion of zones of inclusive order. Peace has progressed from the pre-historical times when people searched for security in families and clans to the times when order and security was guaranteed by increasingly democratic states. Security communities became bigger and more inclusive, and the world more peaceful.

Expansion of security communities in the last two decades can be viewed as progress from national to global. However, during the latest decade the trend of declining conflict fatalities seems to have reversed and the effort to create a cosmopolitan global peace has been associated with violent humanitarian interventions that have increased the number of fatalities, and created chaos and anarchy in the areas where global civilians were to be protected. At the same time as people are increasingly willing to consider the safety of civilians outside their national borders, the numbers of fatalities of conflict have started to grow again. Good will protection of global civilians seems to have escalated conflicts and this has led to the deaths of the very people we wanted to protect.

Analysis of political texts justifying humanitarian military operations shows that the protection of global civilians has been contaminated with nationalist selfishness and unilateralism. World leaders have had to justify their cosmopolitan policies to national constituencies and national decision makers, and this has pushed humanitarian interventions towards a direction where both control and benefits are first-and-foremost with the nations that participate in these operations.  Cosmopolitan practice has made the global system another empire rather than a community of global nations and peoples. Finally, cosmopolitan protection has become militaristic and power-centric. These reasons have largely contributed to the failure of global protection of people from terrorists and tyrants. 

This talk by Professor Timo Kivimäki reveals the developments in conflict fatalities,  the turn in the historical development, and then shows the explanations to the turn by revealing trends in world political discourses relating to cosmopolitan protection of global civilians. In conclusion he shows that without an effort to address selfish nationalism, unilateralism and power-centric militarism, the world will not continue to become more peaceful.


BRLSI paper Kivimäki public.pptx