SIV Blog

The Power of “Democratic Peace Theory”

David Ernst - Feb 28, 2022

For thousands of years, people have sought to prevent war, even dramatically naming it one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In the last century, scholars have made one of the most powerful discoveries in the fields of political science and international relations, called “Democratic Peace Theory”.

They started by compiling a list of all wars recorded worldwide throughout the previous 200 years. War was defined as conflict that killed at least 1000 people.

Then they checked of the two sides fighting, which were democracies, which were not?

Their findings are summarized in this graphic:


Of the 371 wars they identified, 205 were between two non-democracies.

Another 166 were between a non-democracy on one side, and a democracy on the other.

And between two democracies? Zero.

Not a single war during that period was from two democratically elected governments going to war with each other.

There are nuances people can get into over what makes a country "a democracy" vs "a non-democracy". Those are interesting questions to ask.

But nonetheless, the general trend is extremely clear.

If we want less war in the world, this is one very clear path.

Support accountable democratically-elected leadership.

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