Regional tensions

Visualization of narrower problems
Regional conflicts
Regional warfare
Area tensions
The same commonalities that allow for conceptual groupings of nations may also represent objects of contention. Thus, geographically contiguous nations are so as a result of common borders which are subject to dispute or to illegal crossings or other infringement of territorial sovereignty. Such conflicts may escalate, or run the risk of escalating, thus determining responses from distant powers who seek to take advantage of the situation or prevent loss of their existing advantages in the region. In some cases this may result in minimalistic responses, based on cynical calculation or relative indifference, despite violence of genocidal proportions. For fear of being accused of opportunistic intervention, such powers (and the international community as a whole), may therefore limit their initiatives to deploring the scale of such violence. In other cases, commercial interests turn conflicts to their for-profit needs.
Three long and intractable Third World conflicts have dominated the international community since World War II, namely Middle East (Israel), Southeast Asia (Vietnam) - later replaced by Central America - and Southern Africa (South Africa). More generally, nations that share the oceans resources (around the Mediterranean Basin, in the Indian Ocean, or the South Pacific, for example) may be areas in which tension builds up. Nations that use or wish to use straits, canals, seaways and other linking waterways, including rivers, may be embroiled in conflict, for example at Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, the Dardanelles, the Shatt al-Arab and similar places. The commonest designation of an area of nations is defined by ethnicity, language, culture and sometimes religion. The Levant, for example, comprising countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean, if seen also in relation to Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and North Africa, is an area with a variety of tensions that aggravate each other, but in which ethnicity and religion play an important part. Areas designated in press reports include the Balkans, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Southern Africa and the Middle East. Some areas may be designated after a defence treaty, such as WTO or NATO countries; or an economic or other intergovernmental organization, such as EFTA, EEC/EU, COMECON, OAS, or OAU. Regional conflicts such as in Yugoslavia are generally agreed to be the likely model of future wars.

During 1993 the UN had 13 active peacekeeping operations at a time when there were 30 armed conflicts in the world. These regional conflicts included:< [Afghanistan] Despite the historic settlement brokered by the UN in 1989, internal fighting between factions abd tribes continued through 1993. Millions of refugees remain in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. The capital has been reduced to rubble.

[Angola] Despite UN-supervised elections in 1992, the continuing civil war is without foreseeable end. It is estimated that at least 1,000 people are killed each day.

[Bosnia] Sme 200,000 people were killed as a result of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, which had resulted in the displacement of some 2.1 million refugees by 1993.

[Burundi] In 1993 the civil war in Burundi resulted in over 1 million refugees who fled to neighbouring countries.

[Georgia] This country has been faced with civil war in response to the secessionist Abkhazia forces.

[Ingushetia-North Ossetia] A process of ethnic cleansing eliminated all Ingush from North Ossetia by the end of 1993. Russia troops guard the borders between the two republics.

[Kashmir] The conflict between the Muslim majority demanding independence and the Indian army resulted in between 8,000 and 20,000 deaths from 1989 to 1993. No early resolution is foreseen.

[Liberia] By 1993 the forces of the Economic Community of West African States had proven unable to ensure the cessation of the civil war.

[Nagorno-Karabakh] Ethnic Armenians, unofficially aided by volunteers and resources from Armenia, had by 1993 captured the whole of this enclave and one fifth of the rest of Azerbaijan. Large numbers have been killed and displaced as refugees.

[Somalia] Following the dramatic intervention by UN forces, in 1994 these forces were withdrawing, leaving the country in an unstable situation, once again vulnerable to violent local factions and warlords.

[Sri Lanka] The efforts of Tamil militants to create a separate state has resulted in thousands of victims in a continuing civil war.

[Sudan] Continuing strife between the Muslim fundamentalists of the central government and groups in the country's mainly Christian southern areas. In a decade of civil war it is estimated that tens of thousands have been killed and at least 2 million displaced form their homes and lands. They are constantly faced with starvation.

[Tajikistan] Civil war continued in Tajikistan in 1993.

1. Where regional conflicts escalate to a level of genocide, this should engage the responsibility of international society as being a threat to the international community as a whole and as a threat to moral nature, especially when a weaker state or society is being subject to the violence and indifference of a stronger one.

2. The cessation of the Cold War may have considerably reduced the risk of world war but it has opened up (in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe) the greater probability of many smaller wars.

3. In several recent emergencies, commercial kingpins control aspects of the economy in crises, stoking the fires of nationalism, turning conflicts to their for-profit needs. Examples are Sierra Leone, where Lebanese traders and merchants seduced, corrupted and controlled almost all commerce in the country, and Zaire, where Western businessmen followed the genocidal victors to fix new contracts for exploiting the country's diamond and copper mines.

(C) Cross-sectoral problems