BY: MARIKA ANNUNZIATA
Besides the international commitment and regional efforts, the world is at war. During the last year, 378 “forgotten conflicts” have been reported by the Italian Caritas’ Report, of which 168 are reportedly active and ongoing conflicts as well as 20 wars on a large scale, while the number of non-violent politic conflicts has decreased. The assessment of the root causes and the political responsibilities of those conflicts requires the analysis of economic interests, weighing them against the protection of human lives. Frederic Bastiat, 19thcentury French economist, said “when goods do not cross borders, soldiers will”. That hardly matters when we are talking about energy resources, valuable minerals or water sources; commodities have been and still continue to be the means and motives of conflicts throughout the world.
In the past decade, global security has continued to deteriorate significantly. But the increase of uncertainty and insecurity does not depend only on conventional wars. Behind this rise, there is without question the diffusion and the use of light weapons, which are big players in shootings and murders. Heavy arms and high-tech weaponry play a crucial role since they are dynamic and continually spreading. Nowadays, the main cause of concern is that weapons are within just anyone’s reach. They are produced and commercialized by many developed countries making them cheap, affordable and user-friendly. Small arms are used daily to force, threaten and allow abusive expropriations, even to arm child soldiers enrolled in bloody and brutal conflicts. Needless to say, weapons continue to be an ever-growing market.
Amongst the world’s top ten arms manufactures are USA, Russia, France, China, Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Israel and Netherlands. A plain discrepancy and contradiction in terms of cultural and social commitment for those countries which openly reject war and promote peace, stability and democracy. For example, in the year 2017 alone, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted export authorizations for weapons that exceeded 10 billions of euro, of which the 57% went towards non-EU or NATO countries, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, all of whom are widely involved in the war in Yemen. The truth is that Italians, as well as generally the average citizens of developed countries, know little about the different conflicts going on around the world.
Only after the unbearable death of the of the little Amal Hussein, who starved to death in November 2018 in a refugee camp, did public opinion appear to turn in favor of Yemeni civil society and against the ongoing war. Yet Amal is only one of the thousands of victims since the start of the war in Yemen. According to “Medecins Sans Frontieres”, over 100 children die in Yemen every day because of mines, starvation and diseases.
Mali, Somalia and many other regions appear to suffer the same fate: in Mali the French troops intervened in January 2013, but the militants fighting and jihadist insurgencies have carried on. In Somalia, once labelled the Switzerland of Africa, the ongoing civil war has caused irredeemable damage to infrastructure and economy. Thousands of Somalis have either left as economic migrants or fled as refugees. In Darfur, the forgotten war is going to turn 16 years old soon, while almost 400,000 people have died in South Sudan in the five-year conflict that has also driven millions from their homes.
It goes without saying that a more consistent and precise follow-up of conflicts and civil wars, which also cause migration flows, is necessary in order to better understand the reality and serve the modern and future world in the pursuit of the truth.
Deaths and injuries from war and civil conflicts are focused in certain area of the world- the MENA region, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South Asia. On the other hand, violence and criminality is prevalent in large and middle-sized cities in Latin America and Caribbean area, in central and south Africa, but also in the poorest regions of the rich western countries. At least 100,000 people died violently in armed conflicts in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, while 34,000 were victims of terrorism, and those figures underline dynamics and dichotomy of modern international politics, which toe different political lines drawn by economics interests.
Overall, while a proper accounting of the human casualties of wars and organized violence is crucial in order to achieve justice and stability, it is a tough business. Part of the problem is that there are few people or institutions actually keeping track of the death toll. In some of the most conflict-prone countries and cities, there may be no data collection systems in place at all.
Politics and journalism have a tendency to converge toward localism and the aim at protecting the interests of a few privileged sectors of society, but as the Pope put it, “good politics is at the service of peace”.
Marika Annunziata holds a Master’s Degree in law from LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome with a main concentration in European and international law. Marika is currently a trainee attorney and is studying in order to further pursue diplomatic career in Italy.
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