According to a report from
Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) at Uppsala University, Sweden at least 2,37,000
people have died in organised violence in 2022. This was a 97 per cent increase
compared with the previous year, and the highest number since the Rwandan
genocide in 1994.
see this increase despite considerable de-escalation in the two deadliest
conflicts of 2021; Yemen and Afghanistan. Instead, violence in Ethiopia and
Ukraine escalated drastically,” said Shawn Davies, Senior Analyst at UCDP. One shudders to think what
the report will be for 2023.
The Ongoing Conflicts
The wars in Ethiopia and
Ukraine resulted in at least 1,80,000 battle-related deaths in 2022. This is an
estimate as information from these conflicts can rarely be accurate and is
subject to extensive propaganda. If we take the data at face value, more people
died in those two conflicts alone, in 2022, than in the whole world the year
common perception is that Russia’s war in Ukraine was the bloodiest conflict in
2022, but in fact, more people died in Ethiopia where the Tigray People's
Liberation Front (TPLF) has fought the Ethiopian Army, the latter supported by
Eritrea, since late 2020,” said Davies.
of various advances in war fighting technologies, fighting has been
characterised by attrition. This type of warfare has contributed to the high
casualty numbers. The nature of the adversaries has also varied with non-state
actors taking centre stage in most conflicts. The Russian invasion of Ukraine
in February 2022 being an exception but, in this war, too we have seen a hybrid
conflict with proxies coming into play. However, with the conflict in Ukraine,
high-intensity conflict returned to Europe, which had previously enjoyed
several decades of relative peace and stability.
conflict and confrontation are now at the centre stage in multiple parts of the
world. Hamas’s 07 Oct 2023 attack on Israel, and the Israeli counteroffensive
on Gaza, have raised the spectre of an expanded conflict in the Middle East
with Iran and its puppets the three H’s; Hezbollah, Hamas and Houthis. Ukraine,
which was firmly centre stage for over eighteen months has suddenly found that
the spotlight has shifted though the conflict still carries on, unfortunately,
the Ukrainian counter attack lacked both tempo and bite and it seems to be an
has been a surge in violence across Syria, including a wave of armed drone
attacks that threatened US troops stationed there. In the Caucasus, in late
September, Azerbaijan taking advantage of Russia’s preoccupation in Ukraine, seized
the disputed Enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh—forcing an estimated 1,50,000 ethnic
Armenians to flee their historical home in the territory and setting the stage
for renewed fighting with Armenia.
Africa, the civil war in Sudan rages on, conflict has returned to Ethiopia, and
the military takeover of Niger in July was the ninth coup or attempted power
grab in just over three years in West and Central Africa, a region that over the
last decade had made strides to shed its reputation as a ‘coup belt’, only for
persistent insecurity and corruption to open the door to military leaders.
our own neighbourhood, Afghanistan under Taliban can be termed a ‘terrorist
state’ and Pakistan believes in nurturing terrorists as a strategic tool of
their state policy. There is a military junta in control in Myanmar, and as far
as India is concerned, the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual
Control with China continue to remain tense and terrorism sponsored by Pakistan
persists though it is presently under control to a degree.
There are now concerns that
Hamas’s attack and the Israeli response in the Gaza Strip could provide a
window of opportunity for the global jihadi movement to revive itself after
years of decline. Al Qaeda and ISIS may now pose a fresh threat. FBI Director,
Christopher Wray, told a United States Senate Committee that the terror threat
has been raised to a “Whole other level” because of ongoing conflict in the
region. “We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an
inspiration, the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its
so-called caliphate several years ago”.
The Study Report
In fact, according to the
study conducted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo, the number, intensity,
and length of conflicts worldwide is at its highest level since before the end
of the Cold War. They concluded that there were 55 active conflicts in 2022,
with the average one lasting about eight to eleven years, a substantial
increase from the thirty-three active conflicts lasting an average of seven
years a decade earlier.
war has come record levels of human upheaval. In 2022, a quarter of the world’s
population—two billion people—lived in conflict-affected areas. While the
number of those forcibly displaced worldwide reached a record 108 million.
These figures are all alarming to put it mildly.
Need to Address the Drivers
of the Conflicts
Unfortunately, as fighting
flares worldwide, the root causes of conflict remain unresolved and the focus
seems to be only on the immediate cause. Simultaneously, positions are
increasingly getting hardened and peace negotiations more difficult due to the
intertwining of interests of those in a position to broker peace. The result is that voices are getting
shriller, societies are being divided, resources are being diverted from
development to aid, refugees are displaced, and as the rules of conflict are
increasingly being cast away, innocents continue being caught in the cross fire.
which were once rare are now common and from being mainly binary in nature are
now multi-party. There is also the changing nature of conflict. Wars now tend
to be fought between states and armed groups committed to different causes with
access to relatively advanced weaponry and other forms of technology, as well
as money and material from other states who function on a principal of
‘plausible deniability’. The norms that shaped many earlier wars no longer
the Hamas militarily is achievable but more difficult than crushing it on the
battlefield is eliminating its radical ideology and narratives, which must be
of war has also led to greater complexities. Countries including US, Russia,
Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar regularly become drawn in,
whether indirectly or directly, as has been seen repeatedly in conflicts in the
more parties that are involved in a conflict, the harder it is to end it. With
little clarity on the perceived end state, wars are now almost difficult to
end. General VN Sharma while writing the foreword of Armour 71; had written
that; “It is easy to start a war, but once started, it is difficult to
terminate hostilities on terms advantageous to oneself. A good General must
plan for the termination of conflict before starting one. A good General must
also attempt to achieve the national aim with minimum loss of men and material,
both of oneself and of the enemy. To motivate troops in battle, ‘hating the
enemy’ must be avoided as the aim is never to destroy masses of the human
population or to cause total distress to the civil population by levelling
cities and destroying families”. India achieved this in its decisive victory in
A new approach to resolving
and managing conflicts and their impact is therefore urgently needed. Debates
at the United Nations are without outcomes.
Deadlocks in the Security Council mean that the UN can neither offer
solutions nor censure aggression. Negotiators instead of looking at the larger
picture of stopping conflict and devising durable political solutions are
congratulating themselves after plucking low hanging fruit such as export of
grain through the Black Sea and permitting aid to reach Gaza. The unvarnished
truth is that the UN is unfortunately increasingly lacking leverage and
credibility with conflicting parties.
has no doubt been an unprecedented churn in global violence that has shown no
signs of abating and on the contrary the trajectory seems heading upwards.
Unfortunately, the United Nations by the very structure of its Security Council
is unable to arrest this trend.
the world is increasingly being overwhelmed by a series of global crises as
violence grinds on unabated while the shadow of an aggressive China is only
getting darker. Unfortunately, we seem to be racing in the wrong direction.
 Number of deaths in armed conflicts
has doubled, Uppsala University , 13
June 2023 https://www.uu.se/en/news/archive/2023-06-13-number-of-deaths-in-armed-conflicts-has-doubled
 Number of deaths in armed conflicts
has doubled, Uppsala University , 13
 Niger coup: List of recent military
takeovers in West and Central Africa, The Reuters, 27 July 2023 https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/recent-coups-west-central-africa-2023-07-26/
 Stefnia Palma, FBI says Hamas attack
on Israel inspiring ‘new level’ of terror threat against US, Financial Times,
31 October 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e1758abc-df4c-49d4-ad4f-3f7b5f143305
 Emma Beals, Peter Salisbury, A World
at War, 30 October, 2023 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/africa/world-war#:~:text=The%20study%20found%20that%20there,seven%20years%20a%20decade%20earlier.
Officers Association, Armour 71, December 22, 2022, DEFSTRAT Books
Major General Jagatbir Singh, VSM (Retd) is a Distinguished Fellow at the USI of India. Commissioned in 1981 into the 18 Cavalry, he has held various important command and Staff appointments including command of an Armoured Division.
Uploaded on 13-11-2023
Disclaimer : The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he/she belongs to or of the USI of India.