Sexual violence aggravates the 31 armed conflicts of 2009

According to the Alerta 2010! Report on Conflicts, Human Rights and Peacebuilding, sexual violence was used as a weapon in most armed conflicts taking place in 2009. In addition to the report, the School for a Culture of Peace of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona also published the Yearbook 2010 on Peace Processes. This year the report includes a Human Rights Index which measures the level of non-compliance of states regarding their obligation to protect human rights. The index is headed by Myanmar, Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Thailand, Russia, Somalia and India. The report additionally analyses the 31 armed conflicts registered in 2009, most of them found in Asia (14) and Africa (10). In its ninth annual edition, Alerta 2010! analyses the state of the world in 2009 in connection with conflicts and peacebuilding, and documents global tendencies in armed conflicts and tensions, peace processes, human rights, humanitarian crises and the gender dimension, while also identifying five opportunities for peace in 2010.

A decade after the passing of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, obliging states to protect the rights of women and girls and guarantee their participation in peace processes, the School for a Culture of Peace alerts of the breach of formal commitments and measures and the resulting practical consequences. The report points out that violence against women, including sexual violence as a weapon of war, was a constant in all armed conflicts. In cases such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sexual violence reached chronic stages. Moreover, personnel from the armed forces of countries such as Colombia, Myanmar and United States used sexual violence and other abusive practices against women. The report also condemns the fact that most peace processes continue to ignore these issues, even though it is one of the main threats to the peace and security of these populations.

Despite many obstacles, women did play a key role in numerous civil peace initiatives in the DR of the Congo, Colombia, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to Vicenç Fisas, director of the School for a Culture of Peace, “there is a need to expand how we deal with the impact of wars and resolution mechanisms, since the experiences and contributions to peace by women are key to achieving inclusive, long-lasting solutions to conflicts”.

Newly included in this edition is a human rights index with a ranking of all states according to the degree of non-compliance with obligations under human rights and international humanitarian laws. Some of the 22 indicators used for the index are extrajudicial executions, death penalties, tortures, death under custody, abuse against human rights defenders, NGO representatives and journalists, military use of children, etc. A total of 195 cases were analysed and classified from more to less. Spain occupies number 121 of the list.

The Alerta 2010! Report highlights the fact that 19 of the 31 armed conflicts in 2009 were related to identity aspirations or demands for self-government. The majority of conflicts measured at an average intensity level (15 cases), while nine conflicts stood out for their pronounced levels of violence: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, DR of the Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. Although the overall number of 31 conflicts did not vary from 2008, in 2009 a new armed conflict arose in Southern Sudan due to a constant increase in violence in the region. At the end of the year, 29 conflicts were still active. Violence had died down in the Indian state of Nagaland and war in Sri Lanka ended with the victory of the army over the armed group LTTE. Parallel to these armed conflicts, analyses were carried out of all formal and exploratory negotiation processes carried out worldwide in 2009. Although many of the processes have met with serious difficulties, the report highlights the importance of an increase in those which have become consolidated.

The School for a Culture of Peace has also published the Yearbook 2010 on Peace Processes, which analyses negotiations open around the world. The new edition shows advances and retreats of 66 different contexts, of which 45 (68.2%) are currently in the midst of open dialogues or formal negotiations. According to the report, in over two-thirds of active conflicts communication channels were strong enough to carry out dialogues or explorations which could eventually lead to a peace process. In comparison to 2008, the number of consolidated processes grew, whereas those taking place intermittently decreased. However, there was an increase in the cases of conflicts in which negotiations were broken off or never even began (32.3% of the cases). Highlighted in the yearbook is the peace agreement between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and a moderate faction of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia.

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