|Barómetro issue 4, January - March 2004
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- The number of armed conflicts has risen to 25 since the fourth quarter of last year, due to the escalation of violence in Haiti, where J. B. Aristide, under pressure from the USA and advancing armed groups, stood down and was replaced by a government of transition. Violence has also increased in the North of Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire and the region of Darfur (Sudan). The serious humanitarian situation occurring in this last region has led the United Nations to classify it as the most serious crisis at the present time.
- The leader of the armed Palestinian group Hamas, A. Yassin, died in yet another extra-judicial execution carried out by the Government of A. Sharon, an event that could lead to an unprecedented escalation in the level of violence in the Middle East and completely wreck the Diplomatic Quartet's Road Map.
- Four new contexts have been included under the heading situations of tension: Ethiopia (Gambella), Equatorial Guinea, Somaliland and Puntland (Somalia) and Thailand.
- A group linked with the al-Qaeda organisation carried out an attack in Madrid, causing 191 deaths.
- Peace processes are being hindered in at least seven counties by difficulties in programmes for the disarmament and demobilisation of combatants, particularly on the continent of Africa.
- A peace agreement has been reached in Somalia with the signing of the Federal Charter for Transition (though the method of selecting the members of the new Parliament remains to be agreed), and final agreement may be reached in Sudan during the coming months. The Philippines Government has also begun negotiations with the NPA armed opposition group, and continues in its talks with the MILF. Confidence-building measures remain ongoing between India and Pakistan, though both countries have continued to acquire large quantities of weapons and have also carried out missile tests.
- As regards post-war rehabilitation, both the Afghan Constitution and the Provisional Regulations for the Government of Iraq have been approved, though both countries continue to suffer from a lack of security and there are doubts as to the date on which elections can be held. By contrast, huge advances were made in the transfer of power to the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have taken charge of the return of property and the application of property laws. The situation in Tajikistan also improved considerably and the country is starting to receive development aid, a step forward from its previous status as a recipient of humanitarian aid.
- Lesotho and Swaziland declared a State of emergency as a result of the increasing deterioration in the food emergency caused by drought and the impact of HIV/AIDS. In addition, the United Nations called on the international community to pay closer attention to the humanitarian crisis in Chechnya, which was marked by several complaints that Russia is forcing the return of Chechen refugees from Ingushetia without any kind of security conditions.
- The annual report by the Norwegian Refugee Council on the situation facing internally displaced people throughout the world indicated that a further three million people were once again displaced within their own country during 2003 as a result, in the main, of armed conflicts. Africa remains the continent on which half of the more than 24 million displaced people live.
- As regards militarisation and disarmament, the EU announced the creation of an anti-terrorism head to reinforce and coordinate the exchange of information on intelligence systems. In Kosovo, NATO will use its KFOR mission to test the new intervention model that it wants to implement throughout the world, deploying troops in fewer numbers but with better equipment and high levels of flexibility.
- Syria asked the UN Security Council to create a region free of weapons of mass destruction without exception in the Middle East, while Russia studied the possibility of withdrawing from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). The dismantling of the Libyan nuclear programme has highlighted the existence of a significant illegal market in nuclear technology.
- The most recent sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights saw the presentation of two regional initiatives for the protection and promotion of Human Rights: the entry into force of the African Human Rights Court and the reform of the Arab Charter.
- The policies and laws introduced to combat terrorism continue to signal a deterioration in the human rights situation on an international scale. The harassment of human rights workers also continues to increase, along with attacks on minorities, displaced people and asylum seekers.
- The section on development indicates that the many difficulties experienced in the ALCA negotiations offer evidence of the polarisation shown by the international community in matters of trade. Elsewhere, the celebration of the International Year of Rice showed that the sustainable management of this sector is fundamental to food safety in many regions of the world.
- The holding of the 4th World Social Forum in Mumbai (India) consolidated the strategy for decentralising this event, demonstrating the strength of civil society in various Asian countries.
- Finally, turning to gender and peace-building, it is worth mentioning that during the 48th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women it was recorded that the participation of women in peace agreements presupposes a greater guarantee of achieving a sustainable peace. Many organisations also complained of the enormous difficulties experienced by female combatants in gaining access to demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration programmes. For its part, the United Nations denounced the growing impact that HIV/AIDS is having on women as a result of their lack of power and the discrimination against them.