|Global Trends in Armed Conflicts: Is There a Light at the End of the Tunnel? (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters - Université Catholique de Louvain , 1996, 20 p.)|
Civil conflicts and related armed instabilities are of increasing concern to the international community. Since 1989, eighty three countries have been involved in some form of armed conflict. Many of these are currently suffering from continued civil insecurity. The implications are not only political but have serious human dimensions for millions of civilians, in particular women and children. Since the end of the Cold War, political, developmental and humanitarian policy has been confused and the international community clearly unprepared to respond to the apparent needs. Despite the large amount of money devoted to peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts (21 new operations were launched between 1988 and 1994), there have been no spectacular successes except in a few situations such as those prevailing in Namibia, Mozambique, Cambodia or El Salvador.
Both political and human development (including humanitarian) policy require rational analysis and a coherent information base to make effective progress. In the area of civil conflict this basic element has not been adequately addressed. As a result decisions, even of a technical or humanitarian nature, tend to be ad hoc. In the long term this approach is detrimental to world peace and is a serious setback to ongoing development efforts.
The CRED has recently started an initiative to compile data on conflicts from various sources bringing together human, legal and political perspectives on conflicts which have occurred since the demise of the Communist bloc. This exercise includes both published and unpublished sources in a standardised format. Although this initiative is still in its infancy, the early results of this initiative are presented hereafter in the form of tables and graphs.
If the search for common denominators, without negating the nuances of each conflict, seems a dubious exercise, similar problems are present when trying to draw trends over a limited period. There are, however, common denominators which are more striking when examined within a regional perspective. The report therefore includes two parts, the first dealing with conflict occurrence with an emphasis on a regional approach, the second investigating the human impact of current conflicts, i.e. the estimation of fatalities and the number of displaced populations. For the methodology and definition of terms used appendix 1 can be referred to, while appendix 2 gives a list of present conflicts with their main features.