Is a world without war possible in the 21st century?Trends in armed conflict and a developing body of social scientific research suggest that this idea is plausible.Based on a discussion of high-level experts held in 2014, this report reviews the existing research on peace and conflict to argue that peace is an achievable goal for the globe.Current systems for human security have largely succeeded in reducing the risk of war, and if these systems are extended and sustained then it is possible that the world will reach a stable system without war.This report lays out three initial starting points for how these systems can be extended.First, the current systems for economic and human development and human security, including international peacekeeping, should be extended.Secondly, efforts should be made to continue the integration of women into equal participation in economic and political life internationally.Finally, norms and beliefs that legitimize the use of violence as a tool of state or non-state groups should be undermined.
Humanity as a whole is enjoying one of the most peaceful times in all of human history. Organized armed conflict has been on the decline throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, and while these trends are in danger of reversing, in general the movement towards peace is still strong when compared to history. If these trends continue, a peaceful world is possible.
The world must continue the gains in human security. The decline in conflict is in large part because the world has made great strides in reducing poverty and supporting human development, with a resulting decline in war and violence. These trends must be reinforced and continued by extending the current structures in place for development and security.
The world must increase women’s engagement in economic and political life internationally. Research and the lived experience of women internationally show that as women become more visible in public life, peace is more likely.
Achieving peace will require the world to confront beliefs that legitimize violence as a tool of conflict resolution, an area that has been largely underdeveloped to date.