By Ernie Regehr
Director of the Project Ploughshares

After three years of steady decline, the number of wars fought world-wide increased significantly in 1999.By year’s end there were 40 armed conflicts being fought on the territories of 36 countries, up from 36 armed conflicts in 31 countries in 1998 (and compared to 37 in 32 countries in 1997, 40 in 34 countries in 1996, and 44 armed conflicts in 39 countries in 1995).

The Armed Conflicts Report 2000 includes 6 new conflicts:
1. In the Horn of Africa, the Eritrea/Ethiopia war was the first international war since the 1991 Gulf war. Fighting between the two countries began in February 1998 but the most intense fighting occurred in 1999, resulting in deaths estimated to be in the tens of thousands.

  • Two other current wars with prominent international dimensions are the war in Kashmir involving India and Pakistan, and Israel’s incursions into Lebanon.
  • The war in the People’s Democratic Republic of Congo also involves armed forces from neighbouring countries but it remains unambiguously an internal civil conflict.

    2. During the past two years fighting in the Andhra Pradesh state of India has escalated and resulted in several hundred deaths each year, pushing the total over the 1,000 mark in 1999. India continues to be the location of three separate armed conflicts (Andhra Pradesh, Kashmir and the Northeast Region).

    3. Violent clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in the Molucca Islands of Indonesia resulted in more than 1,500 deaths, adding it to Indonesia’s two other conflicts (Irian Jaya and East Timor, over which Indonesia relinquished its control in late 1999).

    4. In 1999 clashes in several settings in Nigeria, including communal conflicts, Christian/Muslim attacks, and clashes in the oil region, resulted in the cumulative deaths going beyond 1,000.

    5. In Senegal, rebel groups have been agitating for the separation of southern Casamance since 1982, and clashes in 1999 there too have pushed the cumulative death toll beyond 1,000.

    6. Russia’s war on Chechnya was renewed with particular energy in 1999, following a period of relative stability initiated by the 1996 truce agreement.

    Defining Armed Conflict: For the purposes of the annual Armed Conflicts Report an armed conflict is defined as a political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by the fighting during the course of the conflict. An armed conflict is added to the annual list of current armed conflicts in the year in which the death toll reaches the threshold of 1,000.

    Reproduced with kind permission of the Project Ploughshares, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G6.
    tel: (519) 888 6541, fax: (519) 885 0806

    Back to table of contents