Alert 2016! Report on conflicts, human rights and peacebuilding

Report
from Escola de Cultura de Pau
Published on 18 Jul 2016 View Original

Executive Summary

Alert 2016! Report on conflicts, human rights and peacebuilding is a yearbook providing an analysis of the state of the world in terms of conflict and peacebuilding from four perspectives: armed conflicts, socio-political crises, peace processes and gender, peace and security.

By analysing the most significant events in 2015 and the nature, causes, dynamics, actors and consequences of the main flashpoints of armed conflict and sociopolitical crisis throughout the world, we are able to offer a regional comparison and identify global trends, making it possible to highlight areas of risk and provide early warnings for the future. Similarly, the report also identifies opportunities for peacebuilding and for reducing, preventing and resolving conflicts. In both cases, one of the main aims of this report is to place data, analyses and the identified warning signs and opportunities for peace in the hands of those actors responsible for making policy decisions or those who participate in peacefully resolving conflicts or in raising political, media and academic awareness of the many situations of political and social violence taking place around the world.
As regards methodology, the report is largely produced on the basis of the qualitative analysis of studies and data provided by numerous sources –the United Nations, international bodies, research centres, media outlets and NGOs, among others– as well as experience drawn from research on the ground.
Some of the most important conclusions and information contained in the report include:

  • Thirty-five armed conflicts were reported in 2015, most of them in Africa (13) and Asia (12), followed by the Middle East (six), Europe (three) and the Americas (one).

  • Two new armed conflicts were accounted for in 2015: in Burundi, due to the escalation of instability and political violence amidst a climate marked by popular demonstrations, repression of dissidents and an attempted coup d’état; and in the Philippines (Mindanao-BIFF) as the result of intensified clashes between the Philippine Armed Forces and the armed group BIFF.

  • At the end of 2015, only 34 of the 35 cases were active, since the situation in India (Assam) ceased to be considered an active armed conflict due to the decrease in violence, in keeping with a pattern of reduced hostilities in recent years.

  • Eleven conflicts reported a higher intensity during the year, with a death toll in many cases well above the threshold of 1,000 fatalities per year: Libya, Nigeria (Boko Haram), Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Egypt (Sinai), Iraq, Syria and Yemen (Houthis).

  • In 2015, many of the contexts of conflict (43%) reported dynamics and levels of violence similar to those of the previous year, while a decrease in the levels of confrontation was observed in nearly one third, including the case of India (Assam), which stopped being considered an armed conflict. A worsening of the situation was observed in another third of the cases, resulting from the intensification of hostilities and levels of violence. Though worse, this situation was not as bad as reported in 2014.

  • Beyond their multi-dimensional nature, the main causes of two thirds of the armed conflicts in 2015 (24 cases, equivalent to 69%) included opposition to the government (whether due to its internal or international policies) and the struggle to achieve or erode power, or opposition to the political, social or ideological system of the state. The underlying motivations of over half (19 cases, or 54%) included demands for self-determination or self-government and identity-related aspirations.

  • During 2015, armed conflicts around the world continued to have a serious impact on civilians. As detailed in the analysis of cases from each context, the consequences are not limited to mortal victims resulting from fighting, but also include massacres and summary executions, arbitrary detention, torture and many other forms of physical and psychological abuse, the forced displacement of populations, the use of sexual violence, the recruitment of children and many other forms of abuse against boys and girls, in addition to other dynamics.

  • Throughout 2015, the deliberate use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in contexts of armed conflict was observed by armed groups in countries like Iraq, Mali, CAR, DRC, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

  • Forced displacement was one of the most visible consequences of armed conflict in 2015, a period that confirmed the trend observed in previous years regarding a significant rise in the number of refugees and internally displaced people around the world.

  • At the end of 2015, UNHCR’s figures based on data corresponding to the first quarter of the year noted that the total number of displaced people and refugees reached 60 million people.

  • At the close of 2015, 37 weapons embargoes were being imposed on a total of 24 states and non-state armed groups by the UN, the EU, the Arab League and the OSCE. This was one more than the previous year due to the inclusion of Yemen.

  • Twenty armed conflicts and 52 active situations of tension were reported in 2015 in which neither the UN nor other regional organisations imposed weapons embargoes.

  • Eighty-three scenarios of socio-political crisis were reported around the world in 2015. The cases were primarily concentrated in Africa (36) and Asia (20), while the rest of the situations of tension took place in Europe (11), the Middle East (11) and the Americas (five).

  • The most serious socio-political crises in 2015 took place in Central Africa (LRA), Cameroon, Chad,
    Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bangladesh, North Korea-South Korea, the Philippines (Mindanao),
    India (Manipur), India-Pakistan, Pakistan, Armenia-Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh), Russia (Kabardino-Balkaria), Egypt, Israel-Syria-Lebanon and Lebanon.

  • In line with previous years, over half the sociopolitical crises were of an internal nature (43 cases), more than one fourth were internationalised internal tensions (22 cases) and a fifth were international (18 cases).

  • Regarding the evolution of the tensions, two fifths (34 cases) reported a worsening of the situation compared to 2014, while one third (29 cases) experience no significant change and one fourth improved to some extent (20 cases).

  • In line with data from previous years, the different main causes of 67% of the tensions included opposition to the internal or international policies implemented by the respective governments, which led to conflict to achieve or erode power, or opposition to the political, social or ideological system of the respective states.

  • Four peace negotiations were resolved satisfactorily during the year: CAR, Sudan (Darfur – SLM-MM),
    Mali (CMA-Platform) and South Sudan.

  • Explorations were conducted in three conflicts for the purpose of opening a formal negotiating process: Colombia (ELN), Pakistan (Balochistan) and Syria.

  • Of these negotiations, 17.9% ran smoothly or were resolved (seven cases), 30.7% had significant difficulties (12 cases) and 43.6% failed (17 cases).

  • Seventy per cent of the active armed conflicts in 2015 for which data on gender equality are available took place in contexts with serious or very serious gender inequalities.

  • The refugee crisis in the EU was marked by the gender dimension and showed serious human rights violations against the population fleeing the wars.

  • In 2015, a high-level review was conducted on the 15 years of implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

  • Peace negotiations in Colombia, Cyprus and Afghanistan demonstrated the importance of the gender dimension in peace processes.

  • The report identifies five opportunities for peace for 2016: the restart of peace negotiations in Cyprus; the new political situation in Burkina Faso after the end of the transition process; the exploration of scenarios of peace in Thailand; the transition towards democracy and peace in Myanmar; and the positive impact of the introduction of the gender perspective in peace processes in terms of inclusiveness and sustainability.

  • The report highlights another 10 alarming scenarios ahead of 2016: the rise in violence and instability in Burundi, pushing the country to the brink of civil war; the risk for stability in Mali posed by the activities of jihadist groups; the prospects of rising violence and political upheaval in DRC; the fragility of the peace agreement in Sudan and the risks for its implementation; the polarisation of powers in the new political scenario in Venezuela; the impact of the lack of legitimacy of the Taliban leadership in the peace process in Afghanistan; the difficulties of the peace process in Mindanao; the risks of further drift in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK; the serious worsening of the situation in Yemen following the intensification of the dynamics of violence in the country; and the destabilising international effects of the jihadist threat.