The independent resource on global security

2. Armed conflict prevention, management and resolution



I. Introduction

II. The United Nations

III. Regional organizations

IV. Multinational coalitions

V. State actors

VI. Other players

VII. Conclusions


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Prevention, management and resolution efforts are, in large part, directed at conflicts within states. The fact that so few of these conflicts remain contained within national borders is one of the principal motivations for external engagement by international organizations, states and non-state actors. The human and other costs of intra-state conflicts and their resistance to swift resolution are other considerations. Yet the patchy success record of international actors raises questions as to the suitability of current patterns of international conflict management. The norms and tools of the international community are undergoing review and adaptation: whether reforms are moving in the right direction and fast enough to enable improvement remains to be seen.


The overarching change in the international normative environment is the growing assertion that individuals and human rights lie at the heart of the international system. State sovereignty, in this perspective, is not an absolute but conditional on the manifestation of responsibility towards the population in question. This responsibility incorporates a comprehensive conception of rights, a set of positive rather than negative propositions. Moreover, with it comes an acknowledgement of non-state actors and the active role they can and should play in international politics. This normative shift was manifested in 2000 in successive United Nations Security Council resolutions, the naming of sanctions-breaking states in Security Council reports, and attention to the linkage between economics—particularly the trade in diamonds—and conflicts, within which engagement with private business has been significant.


Expansion and consolidation, rather than initiation, characterized international conflict prevention, management and resolution efforts in 2000. The failure of the two major peace agreements of 1999, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, forced increased UN and regional engagement and the expansion of the UN peace operations established in the two states. The large civilian administration operations launched in East Timor and Kosovo in 2000 proved intensely challenging throughout the year. An internationally negotiated peace agreement brought the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia to an end and paved the way for the only new UN peacekeeping operation of 2000. North and South Korea set in motion their own peace process with a historic summit meeting in June, while US-led efforts to conclude a final settlement in the Middle East collapsed in violence in September. Externally facilitated peace processes in Burundi and Somalia concluded in formal agreements, in the case of Somalia enabling government to be re-established for the first time since 1991. The long-running conflicts in Colombia and Sri Lanka moved closer to international mediation. The increasing engagement of external actors in intra- and interstate conflicts was reflected in the launch of comprehensive UN peacekeeping reform and the continued development of diverse regional organizations’ crisis-management capacities. Conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building gained new prominence on the international agenda.



Appendix 2A. Multilateral peace operations, 2000


Full text Appendix 2A [PDF].

Appendix 2A presents data on the 55 multilateral observer, peacekeeping, peace-building, and combined peacekeeping and peace-enforcement missions which were initiated, ongoing or terminated in 2000.



Appendix 2B. War and the failure of peacekeeping in Sierra Leone


Full text Appendix 2B [PDF].



On 2 May 2000 members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) detained and disarmed a Zambian battalion of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) that had been sent to break the siege of Kenyan peacekeepers in Makeni. This incident effectively spelled the end of the Lomé Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF, signed on 7 July 1999 after over eight years of war. Since then, all parties have returned to battle. In August 2000 the UN Secretary-General recommended increasing UNAMSIL’s strength from 7500 to 20 500 troops. The UK unilaterally sent warships and a commando battalion to Sierra Leone. Diplomats in other states put Charles Taylor, President of neighbouring Liberia, under pressure for allegedly aiding RUF forces. These developments highlight the extent to which Sierra Leone’s war has become part of a regional conflict.



Appendix 2C. The Palestinian-Israeli peace process in 2000


Full text Appendix 2C [PDF].



The year 2000 ended in violence with Israel and the Palestinians further apart than at any time since 1993. However, some progress was made in the course of the year. Of crucial importance is the fact that the issue of Jerusalem has been opened up for negotiation. There were also signs of some movement on the issue of Palestinian refugees and the right of return but, in the short term at least, the future looks bleak.


It is difficult to see how Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can live up to his pledge to bring peace with security to Israel given his current public position. He is offering the Palestinians much less than Ehud Barak, whose proposals they turned down. The Palestinian position has hardened as a result of the bloodshed of recent months, and after Sharon’s victory the Palestinian leadership on the ground called for an escalation of the intifada.


As for the longer term, there is widespread recognition that there is no alternative to a peace process in the Middle East. The Palestinians need to reach an agreement with the Israelis to secure their state, and Israel needs the Palestinians if there is to be an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict.