Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts

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Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)2United Nations UniversityCentre for Policy ResearchFebruary 2015Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts:Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)Louise Bosetti and Sebastian von EinsiedelOccasional paper 2Introduction:Note on the data sources used for this paperOn 31 October 2014, the United Nations Secretary-The following analysis is based on Uppsala ConflictGeneral appointed a High-Level Independent Panel onData Program (UCDP) datasets, at the Department ofPeace Operations to undertake a ‘comprehensive assess-Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.iiment of the state of UN peace operations today and theThese datasets are a key reference in conflict trendemerging needs of the future’, especially with regardanalysis and, as such, have been widely used byto the changing nature of conflict. In this context, thescholars in numerous publications.iii In this paper weUnited Nations University - Centre for Policy Researchprovide an updated analysis of global and regional(UNU-CPR), in November 2014, prepared a paper on ma-armed conflict trends, with a focus on the most con-jor recent trends in violent conflict. The paper, survey-flict-prone regions (Asia, Middle East and Northing global conflict data, noted, inter alia, a significant in-Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa).icrease in major civil wars (i.e. those with over 1,000 battledeaths per year) and related battle deaths in recent years.Only conflicts reaching a threshold of 25 battle deathsin one given year are reported in UCDP datasets.This observation triggered the appetite, among someConflicts are coded as “minor” if they result in 25 tomembers of the High-Level Panel, for a more granular999 battle deaths, while conflicts resulting in 1,000understanding of how this global trend is reflectedor more battle deaths are coded as major civil wars.(or not) in different regions. Hence, CPR was asked toprovide a disaggregation of the data by levels of conflictAs most contemporary conflicts are intrastateintensity, subregions, and countries, which is offered inconflicts, this paper focuses mainly on these. Uppsalathe present paper. The limited aim of this paper is toclassifies violent conflict in three different categories:simply present – and make easily accessible –the data1) state-based armed conflicts, 2) non-state conflictsand highlight key trends. It does not intend to provideand 3) episodes of one-sided violence.While “state-an in-depth analysis of the causes or dynamics ofbased armed conflicts” are the result of the fightingconflict in different regions. For easy access, the graphsbetween two warring parties - where one has to beand data used in this paper are also available online.unu-cpr/ confidential

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)the government of a state and the other a formally31. Global trendsorganized armed group -, episodes of one-sided violence refer to the unilateral use of armed force (byFigure 1: Global trends in intrastate armed conflicts,either the government of a state or a formally orga-1990-2013nized group) against civilians. In non-state conflicts,45none of the warring parties is the government of a state.40201510different datasets are difficult to integrate, which5is why graphs in this paper are largely based on theMajor civil wars ( 1000)201420122010200820062004200219901992thus not include battle deaths incurred as a result20000data covering “state-based armed conflicts,” and do1998to reflect all types of violence in single graphs, the251996categories of violence. While it may be desirable301994Most conflicts encompass all three different# conflicts35Minor civil wars (25-999)of episodes of one-sided violence or fightingbetween non-state armed groups. For example, theSource: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a.1994 Rwandan genocide is classified as an episodeof “one-sided violence” by UCDP and does not showFigure 2: Global trends in intrastate armed conflicts by region,in the battle death estimates related to “state-1990-2013viibased armed conflict” (Figure 12). Similarly, the25violent repression of civilian protests in Syria indeaths related to “state-based armed conflict” (Figure 7). Much of the violence associated with theArab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa isthus unreported in the graphs presented below.# conflicts202011 is not reported in the estimates of 9921919900While Uppsala datasets are widely regarded as themost reliable available conflict-related data, and asEuropeAsiasuch extremely valuable for the analysis of conflictAmericasSub-Saharan Africatrends, they tend to under-estimate the number offatalities related to violent conflict. UCDP estimatesMENASource: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a.are based on reports (news reports, NGO reportsetc.) counting individual violent incidents andIn 2013, there were 33 active intrastate armed conflictsrelated fatalities as opposed to summary estimatesin the world. Overall, that number is still relativelyand expert assessments. In war settings wherelow when compared to the peak year of 1991, whendirect reporting is impossible, this methodology50 intra-state conflicts were reported. However, aftertends to underestimate the actual number of battledecreasing for much of the 1990s, major civil wars (i.e.deaths and fatalities. In addition, when reports pro-those with more than 1,000 battle deaths), have beenvide different estimates, UCDP as a rule includesagain on the rise, almost tripling from four in 2007 tothe lower figure.v This may partly explain, for in-eleven in 2014.viii The share of high-intensity conflictsstance, why UCDP datasets reported 15,000 battleas a total of intra-state conflicts has also been growingdeaths in Syria in 2012, when research commissionedprogressively since 2007.ivby the OHCHR provided a much higher estimate.viunu-cpr/ confidential

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)4These global trends, however, hide important region-(mainly attributable to the war in Afghanistan, Sri Lankaal disparities. Throughout the 1990s, Europe and theand Pakistan – see figure 4), the overall death toll inAmericas have experienced an important reductionthe region has decreased since the end of the war in Sriin the number of armed conflicts taking place withinLanka in 2009. Since then, however, battle deaths havetheir borders, both stabilizing at very low levels in thestabilized at relatively high levels of around 10.000/2000s. Since the 1990s, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africayear (figure 3). As such, the region remained until 2012have continuously been the two regions most affected– when Middle East and North Africa recorded theby violent conflict. In 2013, Asia was the region withhighest battle death tolls - the deadliest in the world.the highest concentration of armed conflicts, with aCentral and South Asia is where most of the battletotal of 13 intra-state conflicts. Most of these conflicts,deaths related to armed conflict in the continent arehowever, were low-intensity conflicts, with only twoconcentrated (figure 4).major civil wars occurring in the region (AfghanistanFigure 3: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deathsdramatic decrease in intra-state conflict during the firstin Asia, 1990-2013figures 3 and 4 below).Battle deaths121020082020202020200600400250059810961019a dramatic escalation in the intensity of conflicts (see1594slight downward trend in the number of conflicts hides1519previous years’ levels in 2012 and 2013. However, this2092breaking out in Libya and Syria, before returning to2090of conflicts reached a peak in 2011, due to new conflicts2519Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the number# conflictsgion have doubled, from 6 in 2005 to 12 in 2013. In the2519Since then, intra-state armed conflicts in that sub-re-19half of the 2000s, the trend has reversed as of 2005.Battle deaths (thousands)and Pakistan). In sub-Saharan Africa, while there was a# Conflicts2. Regional trendsSource: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a;The frequency and intensity of conflict varies quiteUCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.significantly, not only between regions, but also withinregions and sub-regions. Three regions have beenAfghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan, accountexperiencing the highest number of conflicts and battlefor most battle deaths in the sub-region (figure 4). Overdeaths over the past quarter century: Asia, the MENAthe past 10 years, Afghanistan has experienced a twen-region, and sub-Saharan Africa. The following sectionsty-fold increase in battle deaths related to the armedof this paper provide a more detailed analysis of each ofconflict, 2013 being the deadliest year of the conflictthese three regions.with 8,048 reported battle deaths. Despite a drop in reported battle deaths in Pakistan since 2010, the conflict2.1. Asiaixagainst the Taliban and other armed militant groupsDespite a decrease in the number of conflicts in Asiawas still responsible for over 1,700 battle deaths in thesince the mid-2000s, the region still had the highestcountry in 2013.number of conflicts in 2013. Four new conflicts eruptedin the region that year, reversing the downward trendIn Southeast Asia and Oceania (figure 5), the overallof the past five years: three in Myanmar (two in Kachinnumber of battle deaths has been relatively low sincestate and one in Shan state) and one in Malaysia. Inthe mid-2000s, with no single major civil war report-terms of battle deaths, after a dramatic increase in theed in the sub-region since 2000, when the conflict inintensity of overall conflicts in the region since 2003southern Philippines (Mindanao) reached the thresholdunu-cpr/ confidential

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)5of 1000 battle deaths in one year. Since the de-esca-deaths reported in the region (see figure 7). While battlelation of the conflict in the Philippines, most battledeaths dropped significantly in the country since 2006,deaths in the region have been the result of long-lastingthe on-going conflict between the Yemeni governmentlow-intensity conflicts, periodically experiencing up-and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2009, fol-surges in violence (such as the Philippines in 2009 andlowed by the outbreak of two new conflicts in Libya2013 or Myanmar in 2011-2012).and Syria in 2011, sparked another peak of violencein the region. In 2011, the number of intra-state wars(8) reached levels comparable to the early 1990s. Thein Central and South Asia, 1990-2013number of violent conflicts in the MENA region has12decreased since then but the escalation of violence in10Syria and, to a lesser extent, Yemen have resulted in the8region experiencing in 2012 its highest death toll over6the past 25 years (see figure 6).xi As shown in figure 8,4while in 2011 most of the violence in Syria was linked2to the forceful repression of civilian protests by Bashar0al-Assad’s armed forces (recorded in UCDP datasets as19919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1120 213Battle deaths (thousands)Figure 4: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deaths“one-sided violence”), by 2012 the conflict had turnedAfghanistanBangladeshIndiainto a major civil war responsible for over 15,000 battleNepalPakistanUzbekistanSri Lankadeaths.xii Since 2012, the expansion of ISIS in Iraq andTajikistanneighboring Syria has also led to an upsurge of violenceSource: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.in both countries.xiiiFigure 5: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deathsFigure 6: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deathsin East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania, 1990-2013in the MENA region, 1990-20132020# conflicts151151010505CambodiaLaosPapua New landSource: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.10081220200402000620202020989694Battle deaths20191992199001919919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1120 2130# ConflictsSources: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a;UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.Battle death data for 2013 are not included due to the absence of2.2. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regionxAfter having significantly decreased during the secondhalf of the 1990s - in both numbers and intensity –intra-state armed conflicts in the MENA region increasedagain in the mid-2000s (see figure 6). From 2004 to2010, the war in Iraq was responsible for most battleunu-cpr/ confidentialreliable estimates for Syria.Battle deaths (thousands)2519Battle deaths (thousands)2

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)6In West Africa, most of the conflicts that had fueledselected MENA countries, 1990-2013armed violence throughout the 1990s (especially the16war in Sierra Leone from 1992 to 2002) had ended by142005 (see figures 10 and 11). Following a remarkably12peaceful period in the mid-2000s, with no conflict10or battle death reported in 2005 and 2006, two new8conflicts erupted more recently. The first was in Nigeria6(2011) where the conflict between government forc-42es and Boko Haram rapidly escalated to the level of a0major civil war (more than 1,000 related battle deaths19919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1120 213Battle deaths (thousands)Figure 7: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflicts inper year since 2012), and the second, more recently, rn Mali (2012). The later didn’t reach the 1,000battle death threshold but led to French military intervention and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mis-Source: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.sion (figure 10). While in absolute terms the number ofFigure 8: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflictsconflicts in the region has decreased since 2011, recentand episodes of one-sided violence in Syria, 2011 and 2012conflicts have resulted in death tolls higher than anyother point in time over the last 15 years. In additionBattle deaths (thousands)180.31516to battle deaths related to state-based armed conflicts,14conflicts opposing different non-state armed groups12have contributed to 26% of all battle deaths in the re-10gion. Attacks on civilians by either governments or non-8state armed groups represent an even higher share of6342the total death toll, with 44% of all battle deaths in the0.8region resulting from episodes of “one-sided violence”020112012State-based(see figure 12).One-sidedFigure 10: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflict inUCDP One-sided Violence Dataset v1.4-2014.selected West African countries (I), 1990-2013Figure 9: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deaths42018# conflicts1631412102861420Source: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a;UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014unu-cpr/ confidential1210# Conflicts200820062004200220002098Battle deaths209619941992191919900Battle deaths (thousands)in West Africa, 1990-20133210919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1122.3.1. West Africaxiv4192.3. Sub-Saharan AfricaBattle deaths (thousands)Source: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014;LiberiaMaliNigeriaSierra LeoneSource: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)7Figure 13: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle deathsselected West African countries (II), 1990-2013in Central Africa, 1990-201370020# Ivory CoastMauritaniaNigerSenegalBattle 0001992Battle deaths201650019902518600Battle deaths (thousands)Figure 11: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflict in# ConflictsSource: UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset V.4-2014a;UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014Source: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.While battle deaths related to state-based armedFigure 12: Share of battle deaths related to different types ofconflicts are relatively low compared to the intensityarmed conflict in West Africa (1990-2013)of conflicts in the late 1990s, 2013 saw a significant44%30%One-sided violenceState-based26%Non-stateescalation of violence in the DRC and South Sudan(both reaching the level of major civil war with over1,000 battle deaths that year – see figures 14 and 15).In addition, this relatively low intensity of intra-stateconflicts in the sub-region doesn’t mean that conflictsare less violent than they used to be. As we have previously noted (see page 2), some of the violence linkedSource: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014;to conflict, such as episodes of “one-sided violence” (i.e.UCDP One-sided Violence Dataset v1.4-2014;unilateral attacks on civilians by either the governmentUCDP Non-State Conflict Dataset v.2.5-2014.or non-state armed groups), is simply not recorded inthe same category in UCDP datasets. In the Central2.3.2. Central AfricaxvAfrican Republic for example, almost 2,000 civiliansSince the beginning of the 1990s, most armed conflictswere killed as a result of such attacks in 2013. Similarly,in sub-Saharan Africa have taken place in Central Africa.violence between non-state armed groups in Sudan in 2013Over this period, between one third and two thirds ofwas responsible for more than a thousand deaths.xvi Overthe region has continuously experienced armed conflict.the period 1990-2013, episodes of one-sided violenceIn 2013, 6 countries out of 9 Central African countriesrepresented more than 80% of all battle deaths in thehave endured armed conflict, an increase of two fromregion (see figure 16).xviithe previous year (DRC and Uganda).unu-cpr/ confidential

Intrastate-based Armed Conflicts: Overview of global and regional trends (1990-2013)8Figure 14: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflicts2.3.3. Horn of Africaxviiiin selected Central African countries (Burundi, Rwanda, Ugan-The number of intra-state armed conflicts in Easternda, DRC), 1990-2013Africa has been relatively stable since the beginning ofthe 2000s, and concentrated in two countries – Ethi-Battle deaths (thousands)5opia and Somalia (see figures 17 and 18). In addition,4the sub-region has witnessed two of the four interstate conflicts that broke out over the past 23 years in3sub-Saharan Africa (Eritrea-Ethiopian war in 1998-2000,2Djibouti-Eritrea border conflict in 2008).xix In 2013, two1intra-state low-intensity conflicts were still on-going inEthiopia, opposing government forces and small sepa19919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1120 2130BurundiRwandaUgandaDRCratist factions remaining from the war. Armed violencerelated to Al-Shabaab’s insurgency in Somalia sparkeda wave of violence in the country since 2006, rapidlyescalating to a major civil war with a peak of over 2600Source: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v.5-2014.battle deaths in 2012. In 2013, for the first time sinceFigure 15: Battle deaths related to intrastate armed conflicts2006, however, the intensity of the conflict has de-in selected Central African countries (CAR, Chad, Congo,creased below the 1000 battle deaths threshold.Sudan, South-Sudan), 1990-2013Figure 17: Intrastate armed conflicts and related battle8642608504063042021019919 0919 1919 2919 3919 4919 5919 6919 7919 8920 9020 0020 1020 2020 3020 4020 5020 6020 7020 8020 9120 0120 1120 2130100Figure 16: Share of battle deaths related to different typesSource: UCDP/PRIO Ar

999 battle deaths, while conflicts resulting in 1,000 or more battle deaths are coded as major civil wars. As most contemporary conflicts are intrastate conflicts, this paper focuses mainly on these. Uppsala classifies violent conflict in three different categories: 1) state-based armed conflicts, 2) non-state conflicts and 3) episodes of one-sided violence.While “state-based armed conflicts .

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