More than 525,000 people die each year as a result of violent conflict, and millions more are affected, according to U.N. figures. The vast majority of both killed and affected are civilians.
Conflicts start for a wide range of reasons. Tensions can build up for many years over major issues, but it can take a relatively minor incident to trigger the violence.
Governments have two main responses to conflict: military attack and mediation. Many experts say the military option alone is rarely enough.
Some wars are no longer being fought to win – they have become a means for armed groups to make money, experts say.
So what causes wars, what can be done to end them and what exactly is a peace process? See full briefing to find out more.