The independent resource on global security

4. Armed conflict and peace processes in Asia and Oceania


Overview [PDF]

I. Key general developments in the region, Ian Davis [PDF]

II. Armed conflict and peace processes in South Asia, Ian Davis and Timo Smit [PDF]

III. Armed conflict and peace processes in South East Asia, Ian Davis [PDF]

Seven countries in Asia and Oceania experienced active armed conflicts in 2019. There were three in South Asia: Afghanistan (major internationalized civil war), India (high-intensity interstate border and subnational armed conflicts) and Pakistan (high-intensity interstate border and subnational armed conflicts). The other four were in South East Asia: Indonesia (low-intensity subnational armed conflict), Myanmar (high-intensity subnational armed conflict), the Philippines (high-intensity subnational armed conflict) and Thailand (low-intensity subnational armed conflict). 


Two emerging trends remained cause for concern in 2019: (a) the growing violence related to identity politics, based on ethnic or religious polarization or both; and (b) the increase in transnational violent jihadist groups. Some of the most organized of these groups are active in South East Asia, most notably in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.


Afghanistan and North Korea

Two peace processes deteriorated in 2019: on the Korean peninsula, discussions between North Korea and the United States stalled; and the collapse of the Taliban–USA peace talks in September 2019 led to renewed pessimism about the prospects of ending the long-running war in Afghanistan (despite the resumption of talks in November 2019). The war in Afghanistan was the deadliest armed conflict in the world, with nearly 42 000 fatalities in 2019. A rise in suicide and improvised explosive device attacks by anti-government groups, in particular the Taliban, and an expansion in US air strikes, contributed to increased civilian casualties.



In Myanmar, an ongoing peace process made little headway during 2019, against a backdrop of rising violence, especially in Rakhine state. The voluntary return to Myanmar of almost a million Rohingya people forcibly displaced in 2017 seemed even less likely by the end of the year, even though humanitarian conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh continued to worsen. Accountability and justice for alleged atrocities committed against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar remained elusive, despite legal efforts pending at the International Crim-inal Court and the International Court of Justice. 

Dr Ian Davis and Timo Smit