Disability-adjusted life year
for war per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004
less than 100
more than 8800
The effects of war are widely spread and can be long term or short term. Soldiers experience war differently than civilians, although either suffer in times of war, and women and children suffer unspeakable atrocities in particular. In the past decade, up to two million of those killed in armed conflicts were children. The widespread trauma caused by these atrocities and suffering of the civilian population is another legacy of these conflicts, the following creates extensive emotional and psychological stress. Present-day internal wars generally take a larger toll on civilians than state wars. This is due to the increasing trend where combatants have made targeting civilians a strategic objective. A state conflict is an armed conflict that occurs with the use of armed force between two parties, of which one is the government of a state. "The three problems posed by intra‐state conflict are the willingness of UN members, particularly the strongest member, to intervene; the structural ability of the UN to respond; and whether the traditional principles of peacekeeping should be applied to intra‐state conflict". Effects of war also include mass destruction of cities and have long lasting effects on a country's economy. Armed conflict has important indirect negative consequences on infrastructure, public health provision, and social order. These indirect consequences are often overlooked and unappreciated.
Long term effects
During the Thirty Years' War in Europe, for example, the population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns.
Estimates for the total casualties of World War II vary, but most suggest that some 60 million people died in the war, including about 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, about half of all World War II casualties. The largest number of civilian deaths in a single city was 1.2 million citizens dead during the 872-day Siege of Leningrad. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white American males aged 13 to 50 died in the American Civil War. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilized in World War I, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured.
On the economy
The economy may suffer devastating impacts during and after a time of war. According to Shank, "negative unintended consequences occur either concurrently with the war or develop as residual effects afterwards thereby impeding the economy over the longer term". In 2012 the economic impact of war and violence was estimated to be eleven percent of gross world product (GWP) or 9.46 trillion dollars. Everyday activities of a community or country are disrupted and property may be damaged. When people become misplaced, they cannot continue to work or keep their businesses open, causing damages to the economy of countries involved. A government may decide to direct money to fund war efforts, leaving other institutions with little or no available budget.
In some cases war has stimulated a country's economy (World War II is often credited with bringing America out of the Great Depression). According to the World Bank the event that conflicts subside in the country, and in the event that there is a transition to democracy the following will result in an increase economic growth by encouraging investment of the country and its people, schooling, economic restructuring, public-good provision, and reducing social unrest. Conflict very rarely has positive effects on an economy according to the world bank "Countries bordering conflict zones are facing tremendous budgetary pressure. The World Bank estimates that the influx of more than 630,000 Syrian refugees have cost Jordan over USD 2.5 billion a year. This amounts to 6 percent of GDP and one-fourth of government's annual revenues". One of the most commonly cited benefits for the economy is higher GDP growth. This has occurred throughout all of the conflict periods, other than in the Afghanistan and Iraq war period. Another benefit commonly mentioned is that WWII established the appropriate conditions for future growth and ended the great depression. In previous cases, such as the wars of Louis XIV, the Franco-Prussian War, and World War I, warfare serves only to damage the economy of the countries involved. For example, Russia's involvement in World War I took such a toll on the Russian economy that it almost collapsed and greatly contributed to the start of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
As a result of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Sri Lanka's military spending as a percentage of GDP, increased from 1.6 percent in 1983 to 3.5 in 2008 and reached an all-time peak at 5.9 percent of GDP in 1995 representing over 20 percent of the government's total spending. Until the war, arms were not nearly a significant amount of government spending and their defense personnel increased from 22,000 in 1989 to 213,000 in 2008. After the war began, however, arms were imported annually in response to increasing violence. By the year 2000, the Sri Lankan government's "import bill for arms was around $US 274 million", a record high during the war.
Destruction of infrastructure
Destruction of infrastructure can create a catastrophic collapse in the social interrelated structure, infrastructure services, education and health care system. Destruction of schools and educational infrastructure have led to a decline in education among many countries affected by war. If certain infrastructural elements are significantly damaged or destroyed, it can cause serious disruption of the other systems such as the economy. This includes loss of certain transportation routes in a city which could make it impossible for the economy to function properly. For example, warring factions often destroy bridges to separate themselves from attackers therefore creating barriers for the movement of people both in the short term (evacuation of civilians) but also in the long term, once lines of control get redrawn.
The labour force of the economy also changes with the effects of war. The labor force is affected in a multitude of ways most often due to the drastic loss of life, change in population, the labor force size shrinking due to the movement of refugees and displacement and the destruction of infrastructure which in turn allows for a deterioration of productivity.
When men head off to war, women take over the jobs they left behind. This causes an economic shift in certain countries because after the war these women usually want to keep their jobs. The shortage of labor force during the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War enabled women to enter fields of employment that had previously been closed to them and absorbed them into a large number of much-needed jobs. In Women and Work in Iran, Povey points, "The Iran–Iraq war reduced the supply of male labor is one factor. The war increased the number of women seeking work or resisting exclusion. Many women even occupied important positions for the first time". This can also be seen in the Second Liberian Civil War, and in the Rwandan genocide. Women in both conflicts took over their husbands' jobs due to the effects of the war, and received more economic equality as a result.
"International humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the laws of war and the law of armed conflict, is the legal framework applicable to situations of armed conflict and occupation. As a set of rules and principles it aims, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict". International humanitarian law works to limit the effects of war and will protect the people who do not participate in such hostilities. Most wars have resulted in a significant loss of life. Conflict characterizes a major obstacle for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly for the universal completion of primary education and gender equality in education. "The Millennium Development goals are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security". There can be no doubt that armed conflict directly kills, injures, and harms more men than women in that combatants are predominantly male. Armed conflict has many indirect consequences such as on health and survival. "Armed conflict both generates conditions for increased morbidity and mortality".
During Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, more French soldiers died of typhus than were killed by the Russians. Felix Markham thinks that 450,000 crossed the Neman on 25 June 1812, of whom less than 40,000 recrossed in anything like a recognizable military formation. More soldiers were killed from 1500–1914 by typhus than from all military action during that time combined. In addition, if it were not for the modern medical advances there would be thousands more dead from disease and infection.
Displacement or forced migration results most often during a time of war and can adversely affect both the community and an individual. When a war breaks out, many people flee their homes in fear of losing their lives and their families, and as a result, they become misplaced either internally or externally. Those who are internally displaced face a direct threat because they do not receive the rights that a refugee may receive and are not eligible for protection under an international system. Victims of internal displacements are symptoms of war that are often motivated by communal hatred based on ethnic background, race, or religious views. External displacement are individuals who are forced out of the borders of their country into another as seen with the Syrian Refugees. The following may have a severe economic impact on a country.
In 2015, 53 percent of refugees worldwide originated from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. In a Global Trends Report by the UNHRC, approximately 65 million people around the world have been forced from their home. Out of this number, 21.3 million are refugees, over half of the demographic under the age of 18. Some of the top countries absorbing these displaced peoples are Pakistan (1.6 million), Lebanon (1.1 million), and Turkey (2.5 million). In times of violence, people are displaced from their homes and seek places where they are welcome, periodically meeting places they are not welcome.
In response to an influx of refugees and asylum seekers from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sri Lanka, Australia initiated a controversial plan in 2001 titled the Pacific Solution which called for all asylum seekers arriving by boat to be sent to the small and barren island Nauru. Asylum seekers were housed in crowded tents and lived under a constant threat of running out of resources, especially water. Individuals were kept in the detention center until their refugee status was granted or denied. Chris Evans, former immigration minister stated the Pacific Solution as being “a cynical, costly and ultimately unsuccessful exercise,” and was ended under a newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2007. In February 2008, after the Pacific Solution was ended, the final members of a group of 82 refugees detained on Nauru were granted residency rights and resettled in Australia according to a humanitarian resettlement program.
In the case of the Sri Lankan Civil War, displacement had a high chance to impoverish those affected, but women and children were found to be the most vulnerable to the burden of displacement. A Sri Lankan female head of household earns less than a household that has a male head. After men and women became displaced, however, females lost 76% of their income and males lost 80%. While the lost income is within a relatively close percentage, females were more likely, on average, to fall below the official poverty line. Male households by comparison were able to stay above the line even after becoming displaced. In a post-displacement setting, male headed households had more earned income than female headed households. Males benefit from manual labor, carpentry, masonry, and government services while females had earned their income from informal work. Informal work for females is more difficult in a post-displacement setting where they do not have access to the same tools as they did pre-displacement.
The Palestinian people have suffered from displacement as a result of armed conflict and the military occupation. The largest displacement caused due to war occurred in 1947, after the United Nations agreed to have Palestine divided into two states. It later became the Israeli decision that Palestinian refugees no longer were permitted to return to their lands unless it was to reunify a family. "Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem".
In times when a country is in an economic crisis there is an increase in poverty which results in the decline of education. Over half of the world's children that are out of school are forced to live in conflict-affected fragile states. According to the UNESCO report “The groups most negatively affected by conflict were those that suffered from multiple exclusion, for example based on gender, area of residence, household wealth, language, and ethnicity”. One predominantly damaging, effect of conflict on education is the proliferation of attacks on schools with children, teachers and school buildings become the targets of violence. During times of war teachers and students often suffer from death or displacement. This prevents the opening of schools and increases teachers absenteeism. In the case of Iraq, boys were pulled out of school to work for their families, and therefore the education gap for men and women shrank.
Conflict negatively impacts women and men, which often results in gender-specific difficulties that are not recognized or addressed by mainstream communities across the globe (Baden and Goetz, 1997). War impacts women differently as they are more likely to die from indirect causes as opposed to direct causes. "Women and girls suffered disproportionately during and after war, as existing inequalities were magnified, and social networks broke down, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations". Men during war are more likely to die from direct causes such as direct violence. In many countries females are not looked upon as being equal to males. Males are seen as the dominant gender and therefore women are to be obedient to them. "Rape is seen as motivated by a universal male tendency towards indiscriminate violence against women and a generalized masculine desire to maintain a system of control over all women; a continuous process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear" (Alison, 2009) The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, made women and armed conflict one of most critical areas of concern. It stated that peace is directly linked to equality between men and women and to development post conflict (Beijing Platform for Action). Plumper found that most women live longer when they are in peacetime, when compared to a state that is in armed conflict the gender gap of life expectancy drastically decreases in the male to female ratio.
The indirect effects of militarized conflicts' affect access to food, hygiene, health services, and clean water. Women suffer more harshly from the damage to the health as well as overall well being, other infrastructure damages, and the wider economic damage as well as from dislocation during and post-conflict. During a time of war women are often separated from their husbands or lose them as a cost of war. Because of this, there is a dramatic economic cost effect on women causing many to bear the entire economic responsibility for their household.
There are many effects of war on women - emotionally, socially and physically. One effect can be the disruption of the family unit due to males entering the military during a conflict. This military enrollment has both an emotional and social effect on the women left behind. Because of that enrollment, women can be forced into roles that they are not used to - entering the workforce, providing for their families, and taking on other traditional male roles. Rape of women and girls was mentioned above and can have both physical and emotional effects. Unfortunately there has been lack of accurate data on the number of rape victims. There are a few reasons for this - women are afraid to report the rape due to fear of retaliation or how they may be viewed by society, while others may falsely report rape for increases in government support and services 
Lastly, women might not report rape because of the lack of prosecution and actual convictions of the attackers. Prosecution can become difficult due to the lack of evidence and the political justice system itself. The film "The Prosecutors" highlighted how hard it is to prosecute wartime criminals and the danger that the victims and the prosecutors are in when facing them. The film focuses on three countries - The Democratic Republic of Congo, Columbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the sexual war crimes committed, and how difficult the prosecution process is in those countries
Three of the most common things done by Israeli military occupation includes the apartheid wall, displacement of people, and house demolitions caused by bombings especially in Gaza. This has severe consequences on men and women. As the number of marital disputes rises after a house demolition, women are forced to look for work in order to support the livelihood of their families. Also, there is a large rise in domestic violence that leaves women more vulnerable. Palestinians, particularly women, are unable to access basic services, resulting in everyday abuse and suffering as they pass through Israeli checkpoints in order to have such access and admittance.
War leads to forced migration causing potentially large displacements of population. Among forced migrants there are usually relatively large shares of artists and other types of creative people, causing so the war effects to be particularly harmful for the country's creative potential in the long-run. War also has a negative effect on an artists' individual life-cycle output.
In war, cultural institutions, such as libraries, can become "targets in themselves; their elimination was a way to denigrate and demoralize the enemy population." The impact such destruction can have on a society is important because "in an era in which competing ideologies fuel internal and international conflict, the destruction of libraries and other items of cultural significance is neither random nor irrelevant. Preserving the world’s repositories of knowledge is crucial to ensuring that the darkest moments of history do not endlessly repeat themselves."
A Blue Shield International Fact Finding Mission to protect ancient cultural property in Libya during the civil war in 2011.
Today, the abuse of cultural goods is internationally outlawed and punishable. Karl von Habsburg, the founding president of Blue Shield International, stated: “Even in the military itself, the legal situation has created a much greater awareness. Misuse of cultural property is a criminal offense. The military used to think that we can actually do what we want, because we are only responsible for our own commitment and military law. Most military are now aware that they can apply sanctions here - or they are slowly becoming aware of them."
The legal protection of cultural property in the event of war basically comprises a number of international agreements and national laws. The United Nations, UNESCO and Blue Shield International deal with the protection of cultural heritage. This also applies to the integration, training and operations of national armies and the United Nations peacekeeping. In many armies, such as the United States Army and the Austrian Armed Forces (Theresian Military Academy), there are extensive protection programs and cultural heritage protection is part of the training.
War leads to many members of society dying, or being killed, which is bad.
When war strikes it ends up affecting government structures along with the people in power of the government. Many times, one regime is removed and new forms of government are put into place. This can be seen in the Second Liberian Civil War where rebels had removed the current leader, Charles Taylor, and with the help of the United Nations deployed a new democratic form of government that stands for equal rights and even had a woman president in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This change in government was also apparent in Rwanda in 1993 when the genocide finally stopped. The country had shifted from dictatorship to pure democracy and gave both men and women the right to vote. The country also installed a quota system where a certain number of government seats must belong to women. The country's quota was 30% of seats, however women now hold 55% of seats from their own merit. These changes in government also changes the way the country behaves economically.
Some scholars, however, have argued that war can have a positive effect on political development.
On state formation
Political scientist Jeffrey Herbst argues that interstate war is a requisite factor in the formation of strong states. Using Europe's history of state formation as his model, Herbst identifies interstate war as the factor that enabled states to effectively collect revenue and to generate a spirit of nationalism, two results that Herbst considers "crucial developments" in the formation of strong states.:118 War increases both a leader's incentive to establish an efficient system of taxation and the population's willingness to assent to higher taxes.:119–21 The existence of an external threat is also a powerful impetus for the development of a cooperative or unified state.:122 Because the system of revenue collection, increased rate of taxation, and spirit of nationalism generally persist after war ends, war can have long-term consequences on a state's formation.:121–2 This is particularly true of states in regions or periods of consistent warfare because states generally either adapted or were conquered.:120 Herbst postulates that the stability of borders and lack of credible external threats between African states could result in "a new brand of states", those that will "remain permanently weak".:119
Charles Tilly, an American sociologist, political scientist, and historian, claims that within the context of European history, "war makes states." While the purposes of war were to expand territory and to check or overcome neighboring states, the process of war inadvertently engendered European-style state-building. War making resulted in state making in four ways:
- War making that culminated in the elimination of local rivals gave rise to one centralized, coercive strong state power that had a large-scale monopoly on violence.
- Eventually, this large-scale monopoly on violence held by the state was extended to serve the state's clients or supporters. This encouraged pacification, led to the formation of police forces, and provided protection as a state service.
- War making and military expansion would not be possible without extracting resources from the population and accumulating capital. Historically, this led to the establishment of fiscal and accounting institutions to collect taxes from the population to fuel war.
- Finally, courts of law, guarantees of rights, and representative institutions were demanded for by the state's populations whose resistance to war making and state making led to concessions being made by the state. This enabled the population to protect their individual property without allowing them to use force, which would compromise the state's monopoly on violence.
War making and the extraction, protection, and state making that followed were interdependent. Tilly ultimately argues that the interactions between these four processes influenced the classic European state making experience.
Defining armed conflict
Armed conflict is not clearly defined internationally. According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, common article 2 states that "all cases of declared war or of any armed conflict that may arise between two or more high contracting parties, even if the state of war is not recognized, the convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a high contracting party even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance". International humanitarian law works to protect the rights and dignity of civilians during peace and armed conflict with parties of the conflict having legally binding obligations concerning the rights of persons not involved in the conflict. Current day conflicts continue to occur with breaches of human rights and destruction of property continuing to happen due to state interests.
The effects of conflict and its aftermath in Palestine reveals distinct types of disadvantages that worsen gender relations in both men and women. Increased militarization of the conflict and a rise in gender-based violence focused towards Palestinian as well as Israeli women are major ongoing issues happening in the conflict zone. The longstanding effects of the Israeli occupation and policies of siege, confinement and confiscation of land have resulted in social as well as an economic crisis for Palestinians. Consequently, the Israeli occupation remains a major problem for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement in labour, and participation in executive governmental bodies. In the light of an increasingly failing security and living conditions, most efforts should be directed at everyday survival and creating a more stable environment for the Palestinian peoples. The pushing of gender issues should be at the peak of the political agenda.
World War II
One stark illustration of the effect of war upon economies is the Second World War. The Great Depression of the 1930s ended as nations increased their production of war materials to serve the war effort. The financial cost of World War II is estimated at about a $1.944 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, making it the most costly war in capital as well as lives.
Property damage in the Soviet Union inflicted after the Axis invasion was estimated to a value of 679 billion rubles. The combined damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850 industrial establishments, 40,000 miles of railroad, 4100 railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public libraries.
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