The independent resource on global security

1. Major armed conflicts




In 1998 there were 27 major armed conflicts in 26
locations throughout the world. Both the number of major armed
conflicts and the number of conflict locations were higher than the
previous year (in 1997 there were 25 major armed conflicts in 24
locations). However, both figures for 1998 are lower than those for
1989. The rise in the number of conflicts and locations in 1998 is
accounted for by the conflicts on the continent of Africa. 

but two of the conflicts in 1998 were internal - that is, the issue
concerned control over the government or territory of one state. The
two interstate conflicts in 1998 were those between India and Pakistan
and between Eritrea and Ethiopia. 

at least six of the conflicts the intensity of the fighting in 1998
increased to a higher level than in the previous year. Thirteen of the
major armed conflicts in 1998 incurred at least 1000 deaths during the
year - Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Sierra
Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). 

root cause of the conflicts in Africa is to be found in the weakness of
many of its states, which became especially obvious after the cold war.
Corruption, lack of efficient administration, poor infrastructure and
weak national coherence make governance both difficult and costly. The
combination of weak states and rich natural resources in Africa has
resulted in a dangerous structural environment fuelling conflicts.
Natural resources have become a cause for war as well as a necessary
source of wealth for keeping the conflicts going. In several parts of
sub-Saharan Africa semi-political actors are fighting for the control
of natural resources without any wider political ambitions. 


1A. Major armed conflicts, 1998


Appendix 1A presents data on the major armed conflicts of 1998. 


Appendix 1B. The Kashmir conflict



The conflict in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir
continues despite attempts over the past three years to revitalize
democratic institutions. The 1990s has been a decade of violence for
Kashmir during which the relationship between India and Pakistan has
remained volatile. Although the levels of violence have varied greatly
from year to year, fighting has been continuous since 1989. In 1998 no
political or diplomatic solutions to the conflict were in sight and
both separatist-related violence and cross-border firing increased.
Estimates of the number of lives claimed by the conflict in Jammu and
Kashmir, including civilians, military personnel, border security
forces and separatists, vary greatly. Some of the observations that
might be described as comparatively neutral suggest around 25 000
casualties between 1989 and 1996. 

nuclear tests worsened the relationship between India and Pakistan and
were followed by a drastic increase in firing across the Line of
Control and an escalation of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. If the
attempt to reinstall democratic institutions had some effects in
decreasing tension in Jammu and Kashmir in 1996 and 1997, all such
processes were reversed in 1998. The separatist movement, although
internally divided, continues its war against the Indian Union.


Appendix 1C. The Kosovo conflict



During the entire first half of the 1990s, the Kosovar
Albanians exercised non-violent resistance but were ignored by both
Belgrade and the international community. In turning increasingly to
violent resistance from 1996, the conflict acquired an international
dimension, involving other countries and multilateral organizations. In
1998 the conflict escalated to full-fledged warfare between the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) and the Serbian Army and police forces. While
both sides in the conflict included outside political factors in their
calculations, the actual impact of the international community on the
development of military events was modest. By the end of 1998 the
long-term solutions to the Kosovo conflict favoured by the Serbian and
the Kosovar Albanian sides were even more complex and difficult to
reconcile than they were at the beginning of the year.


Appendix 1D. The Tajikistan conflict



Tensions and armed conflict were still prevalent in
Tajikistan in 1998, in spite of an ongoing reconciliation process
between the Tajik Government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO).
Several factors obstructed reconciliation in 1998. Most notable were
the mounting inter-regional and inter-ethnic controversies. A rebellion
in the Leninabad region of northern Tajikistan in November and the
ensuing reactions of the government and the UTO signified a new
emerging balance of forces. For the first time the government and the
opposition were united in their efforts to suppress a 'third force'.
The bilateral accommodation between the government and the UTO may
promote peace and stability in the short term but could well become
destabilizing in the medium term if the two partners continue to
exclude the Leninabad region from a share of the power.