Peace on (much of) Earth

When Americans think of war, immediately Iraq and Afghanistan spring to mind.

Yet the most recent worldwide numbers compiled by Ploughshares, a Canadian-based nonprofit, reveal some 28 ongoing armed conflicts in 24 countries.

"Armed conflict" is defined as "a political conflict in which armed combat involves the forces of at least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by the fighting."

Africa and Asia continue to be most affected by war, with 11 armed conflicts in each, or more than three-quarters of the world's total, leaving Europe, the Middle East and the Americas with less than one-quarter.

Between 1999 and 2008, 30 armed conflicts came to an end, a downward trend most recently helped by the ends of conflicts in Haiti and Cote d'Ivoire.

May that be a trend that continues beyond this season of peace and into 2010.

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