In 2015 it will be easy to conclude that global violence is going from bad to worse, but you’ll be wrong to think so.
Looking ahead, there is no end in sight of conflicts to worry us. In the Middle East, the unexpected consequences of the Arab Spring continue to disrupt the region. The Syrian conflict, which has created the greatest refugee crisis in a generation, is spreading across borders into Lebanon and Iraq.
In Europe, the economic pressure on Russia mounts, and will tempt Putin to double down on his aggressive foreign policy. This may provide short-term relief for his domestic popularity but will likely be at the expense of long-term stability. As a result, Ukraine will fester, and new conflicts are possible in the Baltics.
Further south, West Africa will gradually recover from the worst days of the Ebola epidemic. But in Nigeria, there is no reason to believe Boko Haram’s control over the northern states will decline.
Sadly, even after the symbolic end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, there is little hope the war will actually end. After three months in office, President Ghani still has no Cabinet, and his chances of being able to effectively challenge the Taliban fade with each passing day.
This depressing tour d’horizon could go on, but it would merely distract us from the more positive big picture. In spite of our daily diet of violence and mayhem served up by Twitter and Al Jazeera, the world is actually growing more peaceful every year, and 2015 will be no exception.
The data is undeniable, since the end of the Second World War the number of global conflicts has declined relentlessly. The lethality of these wars has also plummeted. The combined forces of globalization, development, and multilateralism, have reshaped our world for the better and these tectonic movements will not abate in the year ahead.
In fact, 2015 will likely be the most peaceful year in human history.
But everything is relative, and this milestone will only be cold comfort to the 10 million homeless in Syria.