Protracted conflicts continue to trap millions of civilians in a vicious circle of violence, displacement, loss of livelihoods, and poverty. Often, the key protagonists - who benefit economically from continued conflict - have little incentive for truce. This paper describes how current global conditions are undermining peace and security. It argues that activities related to the 'war on terror' have increased insecurity in many parts of the world - fuelling counter-insurgency, human rights abuses, arms trade expansion, and diminution of the humanitarian space. International commitment to end protracted conflicts is vastly inconsistent, while several global initiatives aimed at reducing conflict and poverty have been deprioritised since 9/11. Meanwhile, new threats such as environmental stress and disease are intensifying. The paper suggests a series of policy and practice changes in support of peace and security. However, these will only be achieved through genuine political commitment at all levels to effective multilateral action.