Armed conflict in the world today: a country by country review



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ARMED CONFLICT IN THE WORLD TODAY:
A COUNTRY BY COUNTRY REVIEW


Prepared by
Karen Parker, J.D.

Anne Heindel, J.D.

Adam Branch
for
Humanitarian Law Project/

International Educational Development
and
PARLIAMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP (UK)
SPRING 2000

ISBN 1 901053 05 9


Free reproduction rights with citation to the original.
This report was partially funded by a grant from Association of Humanitarian Lawyers.

Humanitarian Law Project

International Educational Development, Inc.

8124 West Third Street

Los Angeles, California 90048

(tel) (213) 653-6583

(fax) (213) 658-6306

e-mail: ied@igc.org; hlp@igc.org

http://hlp.home.igc.org

Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development, Inc. (HLP/IED) is a non-sectarian, non-governmental organization granted consultative status at the United Nations by Dag Hammarskjöld. IED, originally founded by Jesuit brothers to assist hospitals and schools in developing countries, merged in 1989 with Los Angeles-based HLP and broadened its scope to advocate and promote world-wide compliance with humanitarian and human rights law.


Parliamentary Human Rights Group
The Parliamentary Human Rights Group was founded in 1976 as an independent forum in the British Parliament concerned with the defense of international human rights. It now has over 100 members from all parties in both Houses of Parliament. The group undertakes human rights missions, publishes discussion papers, receives visitors and engages in dialogue with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and with international bodies to which the UK belongs. The chair is Ann Clwyd MP.
Karen Parker specialises in human rights and humanitarian law. She is HLP/IED chief delegate to the United Nations. Anne Heindel works with HLP/IED on issues of humanitarian law and self-determination. Adam Branch is a graduate student in Political Science at Columbia University.
Additional copies of this report may be obtained by contacting:
Law Offices of Karen Parker

154 Fifth Avenue

San Francisco, California 94118

tel/fax (415) 668-2752.


Lord Avebury

Vice-Chairman, Parliamentary Human Rights Group

House of Lords,

London SW1P 0PW

tel +44171 274 4617

fax +44171 738 7864

email 104125.1657@compuserve.com
Arabic copies of the 1997 report may be obtained from

Universite d’Oran

Chaire de l’UNESCO pour l’Enseignement, la Recherche et

l’Education aux Droits de l’Homme, a la Democracie et a la Paix

B.P. 05 Es Senia Oran ALGERIA

tel/fax 213-6-34-63-98 or 213-6-41-96-51



Table of Contents


Preface to 1999 Edition by Lord Avebury, Vice-Chairman,
Parliamentary Human Rights Group UK 4


INTRODUCTION 5

ACHEH 6

AFGHANISTAN 8

ANGOLA 11

BOUGAINVILLE/PAPUA NEW GUINEA 13

BURMA 14

BURUNDI 18

CHECHNYA/RUSSIAN FEDERATION 20

COLOMBIA 23

COMOROS 26

CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC 27

CONGO, REPUBLIC OF 29

CYPRUS 31

EAST TIMOR 33

ERITREA 36

ETHIOPIA 37

GEORGIA 38

GUINEA BISSAU 40

IRAN 41

IRAQ 44

ISRAELI OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTHERN LEBANON 48

KASHMIR 54

KOSOVO 57

LIBERIA 60

MEXICO 62

MOLUCCAS 64

RWANDA 66

SIERRA LEONE 70

SOMALIA 72

SRI LANKA 74

SUDAN 77

TAJIKISTAN 80

TIBET 82

TURKEY 84

UGANDA 87

WESTERN SAHARA 89

COUNTRIES WITH NASCENT INTERNATIONAL ARMED CONFLICTS 92

COUNTRIES IN SERIOUS VIOLENT SOCIAL UNREST 93

COUNTRIES WITH CURRENT UNITED NATIONS OBSERVERS/PEACEKEEPING 101

APPENDIX 103

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 104



Preface to 1999 Edition by Lord Avebury, Vice-Chairman,
Parliamentary Human Rights Group UK

1998 witnessed a new international war, between Eritrea and Ethiopia; an escalation of the civil war in Republic of Congo; the eruption of a new civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with intervention by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the side of President Kabila, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting the rebels; disintegration of the fragile peace in Angola; intensification of the fighting in Sudan, leading to humanitarian crises in Bahr el Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains; a major offensive by the rebels in Sierra Leone, and continued slaughter of non-combatants in Algeria. Africa has had to endure the scourge of conflict more intensively than other continents. The fighting has been conducted with particular brutality in Sierra Leone, where the rebels randomly hacked off the limbs of civilians in their path, and the ‘peacekeeping forces’ and their local allies executed suspected rebels without judicial process. The prospects for a negotiated settlement appear dim, as the Nigerians prepare to withdraw following their transition to civilian government - one of the few bright spots on the landscape.


Africa has only weak and ineffective conflict resolution mechanisms, and as noted last year, the sub-regional mechanisms are hobbled by the rivalries of their member states. South Africa’s initial attempt to prevent outside involvement in the DRC was unsuccessful, and the current mediator, President Chiluba of Zambia, is handicapped by Angolan suspicion that Zambia is giving UNITA some military help. In Sudan, the spasmodic IGAD initiatives have come to a halt since war broke out between two of its member states.
In Europe, by contrast, there are plenty of supranational organisations with some conflict resolution capacity, ranging from the OSCE’s High Commissioner for National Minorities who works only in situations not involving violence, through the European Union, the Russian-led CIS and NATO to the OSCE’s Chairman in Office. Yet when it comes to the crunch, as in Kosovo, all these sophisticated institutions plus the US cannot be said to have been more successful than their African counterparts. The Serbian attacks on civilians have continued under the noses of foreign observers, and President Milosevic has sent additional armour and artillery into the territory in breach of the tattered peace agreement he reluctantly signed. The continuation of the 15-year civil war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish-populated southeast region, unnoticed by any of the regional peacemaking authorities, also demonstrates that if an OSCE state of any consequence decides to boycott the available mechanisms, there is no way of bringing it to book. Sanctions can be invoked against little Serbia, and military force threatened if they carry on with attacks on civilians in Kosovo; but when the Turks commit war crimes against Kurds, the international community describes the resistance as terrorists. We need to develop a more consistent taxonomy of armed oppositions, and to apply theories of the just war, jus ad bellum, to internal conflicts.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the big question is whether Indonesia will manage the transition to greater democracy and freedom without more and worse violence. Since the downfall of Suharto, they have come to terms politically with the possibility of East Timor’s independence, but the irresponsible creation of a pro-integration militia undermines the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to solve the question peacefully. Acheh and West Papua, both incorporated into Indonesia contrary to UN principles, are demanding a hearing on the world stage.
Most of these conflicts and potential conflicts stem from the UN’s failure to decide what groups qualify as a ‘people’, able to exercise the right of self-determination. The incompatibility between the principle of teritorial integrity and that of self-determination was left unresolved, and there was no attempt to create a tribunal to deal with individual cases. Instead, it was left to ‘state practice’. If a people managed to assert their right by superior military force, as in Bangladesh or Eritrea, they were accepted as having qualified. That was not a good recipe for world peace.


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