The By-Products of War essay

Twentieth century will be remembered forever for the horrors of two world wars, genocides and enormous civil conflicts, which distinguished by brutality and horrors. The century which is characterized by progress, democratization trends and anti colonial movement will be also remembered by the most bloody and inhumane methods of warfare which caused millions casualties of civilians. The trend of number of civilians who were killed during warfare is growing and had much exceeded the number of military men killed during conflicts: “The world that we know today, from the states that we live in to the technology that we use daily, has been greatly shaped by violent struggle. In World War I, civilian casualties were under 10 percent of the total; in World War II, they had risen to nearly 50 percent. The evolution continued through the next 50 years, to the point that now the overwhelming majority of those killed in conflicts are civilians, not soldiers. For example, of all the persons killed in African conflicts in the late 20th century, 92 percent were civilians. Similar figures hold true for the wars in the Balkans.4 Civilians once had no place on the battlefield; now the battlefield is almost incomplete without them.”[1]

This statistics is awful, as the main weapon in military conflicts is not defined by military technologies or advancement, courage, bravery or skillful strategies, but barbarian massacre of civilians, speculation on their lives and terrorism in global scale. These practices contradict with international legislature about the warfare ratified by UN and other international organizations, but nevertheless the cases of massacre continue taking placing in different “hot spots” of the world as quite often world superpowers simply close their eyes on these conflicts.

The problem of civil conflicts in modern world became vivid and urgent after the collapse of the pro-Soviet block in late 1980’s and inability of local governments to manage nationalist and ultra radical political movements of ethnically and religious diverse population. The shaky balance of powers, which was achieved during the years of the “cold war”, broke as neither USA nor collapsing Soviets had any strategic interest in these countries. Uncontrolled military regiments of different political and ethnical orientation started their own selfish and destructive wars in order to the spread the influence of clan interests. For millions life turned into the war, which never ends. Second generation of Afghani people doesn’t know what it means to live in peace, there are thousands children in Chechnya, Dagestan and central Africa for whom life without war is unknown and is something nonexistent.

War in these regions destroyed everything: infrastructure, social objects belief in democratic civil government and hope in better future. Millions of people continue living on the ashes and ruins without any hope. The most terrible truth of these conflicts is that it produced generations of people who are not able to leave under the conditions of peaceful time, to obey constitution and laws, to live in society of civilians, in some languages of nations who are involved in prolonged conflicts people have forgotten the meaning of word “happiness” as it’s rarely used in their speech. Civil conflicts are also characterized by growth of radical ultra nationalism, which is preserved in future generations and absence of any ethnic or religious tolerance towards foreigners.

Civil conflicts of modern times have created unexpected flow of refugees from territories, which experience conflicts to neighboring states. These people have no rights in the new state, as they don’t have passport and can not be regarded as citizens or even residents of the country they live in: they can not work or study legally, they even can not marry. The problem of refuges in Northern Caucasus, former Yugoslavia, Central Africa and Indochina is one of the most burning humanitarian problems of the regions as, thousands of people without any civil rights and funds to support themselves have a high potential of result social unrest, in fact the number of crimes committed by refugees is very high due to the fact they are deprived of any funds to support their living and support their families.

“Because the issue is politically delicate and many governments have not made accurate counts of these populations, an overall figure is difficult to conclude. However, recent research suggests there may be eleven million people globally without a country to call their own.”[2]

For centuries Gypsies were considered to be a refuge nation as they don’t have citizenship and are oppressed in most of East European countries. There wide lots of attempts to emigrate from the regions with the wide portion of Gypsy population in Slovakia and Romania, but this nation remains to be without rights and nowadays.

“The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines that “Everyone has the right to a nationality ” and should not be arbitrarily deprived of nationality.  When the 1951 UN Refugee Convention was promulgated, a Statelessness Protocol was attached and then postponed for consideration at a later date. It was subsequently made into a treaty in its own right: the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. This requests signatory countries to provide documentation to stateless people and to consider granting them a lawful residence in appropriate cases. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness gives guidance to countries on how to prevent children becoming stateless at birth and how to protect them against loss of nationality later in life.”[3]

Nevertheless these principles are poorly realized on practice as in most cases refugee camps are situated on the territories of countries with similar problems which are typical for zones of conflicts and instability: poverty and absence of political stability. In these countries local population is often poorly protected and governments are simply not able to aid refugees. This situation is typical for all refugee camps in central Africa, Southeast Asia and refugee camps of Afghani in Pakistan.

The most tragic reality of modern civil conflicts is that children are often recruited into army and serve there as regular soldiers. Involvement of children into permanent military regiments is typical for all modern civil conflicts and local wars. Recent statistics of UN gives horrible data about child exploitation in military of insurgent armies and military regiments of fighting countries:

Twenty-three percent of the armed organizations in the world (84 out of 366 total) use children age 15 and under in combat roles. Eighteen percent of the total (64 of 366) use children 12 and under.5 While the exact average age of the entire set of child soldiers around the world is not known, there are clues. For example, in one survey taken of child soldiers in Asia, the average age of recruitment was 13. However, as many as 34 percent were taken in under the age of 12.6 In a separate study in Africa, 60 percent were 14 and under.7 Another study in Uganda found the average age to be 12.9.8 Indeed, many child soldiers are recruited so young that they do not even know how old they are. As one boy from Sierra Leone, thought to have been 7 or 8 when he was taken, tells, “We just fought. We didn’t know our age.”[4]

Understandably those children are forced to join military regiments by their community leaders or are simply sent in training camps after being kidnapped from school or from streets. Homeless children are the most vulnerable to be kidnapped as they are not protected.

Civil conflicts and ethnic wars are very profitable businesses for military groups. Wars and weapon trade are considered to be the most profitable illegal businesses as they are perfect for different money laundering practices.

It’s enough to note that that there is a dozen of billionaires in Serbia, country where infrastructure is ruined by prolonged conflicts and NATO bombing. Indochina and Afghanistan create nearly 90% of world’s heroine traffic, central Africa states such as Somali and Eritrea are known for amphetamine production. Insurgents of Sierra Leone and Angola control diamond and gold mines ion these countries, subsidizing their armies by illegal diamond trade.

Making a conclusion I would like to say that ideas of sovereignty and national states which appeared in the twentieth century and which became especially popular after the end of WWII during anti colonial and anti imperialist movement, appeared to be dreadful. Local conflicts which existed in pre colonial period revived, lack of experience living under constitutional governments, high poverty level, absence of social infrastructure and humanitarian difficulties on the primary level of central African statehood as a result turned into series of bloody conflicts. The same history is typical for Southeast Asia, too. Local civil conflicts of Europe (Caucasus and Balkans) have clear ethnic origins as they, as ruling clans supported them in order to control power on the territories of multiethnic states. Fortunately, nearly all of these conflicts are in “frozen” state and security of those territories is guaranteed by international military presence and is monitored by European Union. It can be obviously stated that the legacy of all civil conflicts is nothing but social and humanitarian stagnation of population that survived horrors of massacres committed for realization of someone’s bloody ambitions.

[1] Singer, W.The New Faces of War


[2] Singer, W.The New Faces of War

[3] The world’s stateless people

[4] Singer, W.The New Faces of War

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