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1. Major armed conflicts

Contents

TAYLOR B. SEYBOLT

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Summary

The only interstate major armed conflicts
in 2000 were between Eritrea and Ethiopia and between India and
Pakistan in Kashmir. All the other conflicts in 2000 were intra-state
(internal). However, most intra-state conflicts do not remain
confined within the borders of a single country. Of the 14 intra-state
conflicts examined, 10 spilled over into neighbouring states.
Three of the four remaining countries in conflict are island
states, where spillover must overcome a natural barrier. Virtually
all the conflicts studied elicited the direct political, economic
or military involvement of other states and multinational organizations.

Transnational characteristics such as
the outflow of refugees, the illicit trade in natural resources
and weapons, and the transit across borders of rebel and government
forces tended to sustain conflicts and destabilize neighbouring
states. The illicit trade in natural resources coming from zones
of conflict was a transnational phenomenon that received considerable
political attention in 2000. ‘Conflict diamonds’ were
the subject of three United Nations special investigations and
at least two intergovernmental conferences. Oil, gold and other
minerals, timber, coffee and illegal drugs provided groups and
governments engaged in conflict with an impetus to continue to
fight and with the financial means to do so in 7 of the 14 countries
investigated.

The major armed conflicts of 2000 revealed
a diverse set of antagonistic groups, variously driven by political
ambitions, economic motives, ideology and fear. The ultimate
objective of all the groups was to secure control over governmental
power or territory. In addition, in several cases, individuals
within the groups and their outside supporters were motivated
by personal greed. Communal identity, in the form of ethnicity
or religious belief, was a common enabling mechanism—a tool
used by leaders to define and motivate a group. It did not appear
to be a cause of violence by itself.

Most ongoing conflicts have proved difficult to end, with the
majority having lasted for seven years or more. In contrast to
the findings of historical studies, when major armed conflicts
have subsided or ended in recent years this has been the result
of negotiation, not victory. Three conflicts active in 1999 and
one in 2000 resulted in negotiated settlement. No conflicts in
this period ended through outright victory. It appears that the
parties involved are not militarily strong enough to prevail
by force.

Most of the conflicts reviewed are difficult
to resolve. Contemporary rebel movements tend to break apart
into factions, all sides have access to income and weapons, the
fighting takes place in remote locations, and the belligerents
perceive their vital interests to be at stake. Peace is difficult
to achieve when combatants have the will and capacity to continue
to fight.

The human costs of violent conflict, in terms of the number of
people killed and driven from their homes, remained high in 2000.

 

Appendix
1A. Patterns of major armed conflicts, 1990-2000
Appendix 1B. Definitions, sources and methods for the conflict data

MARGARETA SOLLENBERG AND PETER WALLENSTEEN

Full text, Appendices 1A and 1B (PDF)

 

Summary

In 2000,
there were 25 major armed conflicts in 23 locations. Both
the number of major armed conflicts and the number of conflict
locations in 2000 were lower than in 1999, when there were 27
major armed conflicts in 25 locations. Africa and Asia continued
to be the regions with the greatest number of conflicts. Worldwide,
there were approximately equal numbers of contests for control
of government and for territory.
In the 11-year post-cold war period 1990–2000
there were 56 different major armed conflicts in 44 different
locations. The number of conflicts in 2000 was below the average
of more than 27 per year since the end of the cold war. The highest
number of conflicts for the period 1990–2000 was recorded
in 1990–93, when the yearly number of major armed conflicts
ranged between 30 and 33. The lowest number of conflicts was
recorded in 1996 and 1997, when there were 23 and 19, respectively.
All but three of the major armed conflicts
registered for 1990–2000 were internal; that is, the issue
concerned control over the government or territory of one state.
The three interstate conflicts in this period were Iraq versus
Kuwait, India versus Pakistan and Eritrea versus Ethiopia. Other
states contributed regular troops to one side or the other in
14 of the internal conflicts.

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