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Monday, January 30, 2006

Nations Zero on BBC World

Saturday 4th February at 14:10 & 22:10 GMT
Sunday 5th February at 10:10 & 18:10 GMT

“Wars will last as long as there’s a heaven and earth”, according to Mao.

Evets since World War II bear out this gloomy prediction. More people have been killed in conflicts since 1945 than in the two world wars. But the nature of war has changed. Set piece battles between the armies of warring nations are rare.

The face of war now is civil conflict. In Nations Zero we travel to four countries that have recently experienced civil conflict: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan.

Overwhelmingly, we find in Nations Zero, the victims are civilians, not soldiers. And they are victims of more than weapons, displacement and disease. They are victims of the damage that civil conflict does to a country’s economy.

So, as the UN has recently recognised with the founding of the Peace Commission, peace does not come with the signing of a piece of paper, it comes when there is an investment in sustainable development.

In Nations Zero, Paul Collier - principal author of the World Bank’s policy paper Breaking the Conflict Trap - pours scorn on those who argue that war is inevitable.

Colliers points out that nine out of ten conflicts are fought in poor nations even though religious and racial tensions can be just as severe in rich countries. To Collier winning the peace means investing heavily in economic development.

According to Jeffrey Sachs: “If countries are to break the conflict trap, they must first break the poverty trap, which in turn is a cause of conflict”. For each one per cent increase in a country’s GDP the likelihood of conflict shrinks in proportion.

And if rich nations don’t make that investment, argues a World Bank director Steen Jorgensen, expect more conflicts, lasting longer.

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