The Human Security Report 2012 challenges a number of widely held assumptions about the nature of sexual violence during war and the effect of conflict on education systems. Both analyses are part of the Human Security Report Project’s ongoing investigation of the human costs of war.
Part I: Sexual Violence, Education, and War first reviews the fragmentary data on sexual violence against adults and children in wartime. It finds, among other things, that the mainstream narrative exaggerates the prevalence of combatant-perpetrated sexual violence, while largely ignoring the far more pervasive domestic sexual violence perpetrated in wartime by family members and acquaintances. This bias has unfortunate implications for policy.
Turning to the impact of war on education, the Report shows that—surprisingly—education outcomes actually improve on average during wartime. It confirms that conflict-affected countries generally have substantially lower educational outcomes than nonconflict countries, but it challenges the widely held notion that this is because of war. It points out that educational outcomes were also low—or lower— during the prior periods of peace. They could not, therefore, have been caused by warfare. The Report offers the first explanation for the apparent paradox of education outcomes that improve in wartime.
Part II of the Report reviews global and regional trends in the incidence and severity of organized violence. It highlights new research on the deadliness of external military intervention in civil wars, challenges the notion that conflicts are becoming more persistent, and shows that even “failed” peace agreements save lives.