Peace and Conflict Since 1991

War, Intervention, and Peacebuilding Organizations

by Elliot Short (Author) Milt Lauenstein (Author)
©2020 Monographs XVI, 346 Pages


This book provides a fact-filled overview of the problem of political violence and what is being done to ameliorate it. The book presents extensive data about wars that have taken place since 1991, including information on what started and stopped them, the actions being taken to reduce the extent of armed conflict in the world, and the organisations that conduct and fund peacebuilding operations and research.
Those interested in stopping or preventing wars will see how wars ended and what caused them to stop. Peacebuilders, funders and researchers will find an extensive catalogue of organisations with similar interests with which they can collaborate. Scholars and teachers will find the book as a helpful resource for courses on political violence.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Chapter One: Wars since 1991
  • Chapter Two: Wars prevented
  • Chapter Three: Peace operations
  • Chapter Four: Successful peace agreements
  • Chapter Five: Failed peace agreements
  • Chapter Six: International statebuilding
  • Chapter Seven: Peacebuilding organisations
  • Chapter Eight: Donors and funding organisations of peacebuilding
  • Chapter Nine: Peace research organisations
  • Index


This book represents the culmination of an ongoing partnership between Milt Lauenstein, a veteran American peacebuilder, and me. While researching and writing my PhD dissertation, I worked with Milt on a number of projects in which we explored certain aspects of the peacebuilding community. Upon my graduation, we endeavoured to bring the reports from the various projects we had worked on together and consolidate them into a single document. Some reports were expanded, others were added, and all were developed further—the result of this process is this book. I would like to sincerely thank Milt, the sponsor, guide, co-author, and inspiration of Peace and Conflict Since 1991: War, Intervention, and Peacebuilding Organizations for his work, not just on the book, but for all of the peacebuilding programmes and initiatives he supports. Indeed, despite the breadth and depth of this book, it represents but a fraction of his overall contribution to the peacebuilding community.

In addition, I would like to highlight the great debt I owe my friends and family who have offered their guidance, support, and encouragement while I was preparing this manuscript. In particular, I would like to thank my ←ix | x→partner, Chantelle Cohen, and my parents, Galvin and Denise Short, for their continued patience and counsel.

Finally, I would like to thank Michelle Smith and her team at Peter Lang for their help in shaping the final draft and putting the final product together.

Elliot Short

May 2019


On 27 December 2007, Kenya held hotly contested national elections. Within hours of the announcement of the results on 30 December, the country erupted into widespread violence. Over the next two months, over 1300 people lost their lives and more than 500,000 were displaced from their homes. At the outset of the fighting, it appeared that the country was doomed to a terrible civil war.

On 31 December, the day after the violence began, five prominent Kenyan peace workers met and began a campaign to stop the bloodshed. Initially they called upon fellow Kenyans to help, but later managed to get assistance from the UN and other outside peacebuilders. In less than two months, the violence had ended, with an accord signed on 28 February 2008.1

The speed with which peacebuilders accomplished their mission was unusual, but it was just one of many examples of successful action by the peacebuilding community. Over and over, peacebuilders have demonstrated their ability to reduce political violence. In Mozambique, the Baltic states, Northern Ireland, Nepal, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and many other places, peacebuilders have prevented or stopped armed conflict. UN peacekeeping operations have intervened in 57 situations. The Purdue Peace Project, Peace Direct, Conciliation Resources, Catalyst for Peace, and other organisations ←xi | xii→have assisted local groups to prevent threatened violence in many countries. It is clear that direct action by peacebuilders in situations that are, or threaten to become, violent have often been effective.

Many peacebuilding organizations use a different approach to promoting peace. They work to ameliorate sources of discontent, such as poverty, abuses of human rights, and discrimination, which may make it easier for ruthless leaders to get support for violent action. These ills often reflect weak or corrupt governments. Peacebuilders have spent a great deal of effort and money to establish rule of law and otherwise to improve governance in failing states. Establishing conditions conducive to peace is likely to be more sustainable and is sometimes termed “positive peace” as contrasted with the simple absence of war. Still, ending the fighting may be a necessary precondition for achieving conditions for a more sustainable peace.

Perhaps the most widely used approach to reducing violence is simply advocating peace. Religious leaders regularly preach peace. Public demonstrations such as peace vigils are common. However, it’s not clear that advocacy alone actually produces results. Most people already prefer peace to war.

Which approaches to peacebuilding are most efficacious are not known and little is being done to find out. What is clear is that in spite of all of the effort being made to promote peace, armed conflict continues to be a major cause of human suffering. The human and economic cost of warfare is appalling. Hundreds of thousands die or are injured in it each year. Some 70 million persons are refugees or displaced persons. Millions face imminent starvation because of the violence. The economic cost of warfare is estimated at $14 trillion per year. The flow of refugees is causing political instability in many countries. Moreover, in recent years, armed conflict has been increasing.

What makes these facts so galling is the extensive evidence such as that cited above that wars can be prevented or stopped. We have the experience to tell us how to do it, but inadequate resources. The amount of money spent on peacebuilding is less than 1 % of the cost of warfare. Moreover, we have not sufficiently analysed the experience that we have in order to determine where best to allocate our limited resources.

We need to do more systematic research to learn from past successes what kinds of actions work best in which kinds of situations.2 Without such information, peacebuilding organisations are flying blind, using approaches that appear promising but without hard evidence that they will actually produce results.

←xii | xiii→

Moreover, the peacebuilding field is highly fragmented, with little coordination of effort. There is no overall strategy or plan for reducing armed conflict. As a result, many organisations support activities that are ineffective, or, in some cases, actually stimulate more violence.

An examination of the overall situation, including most of the wars and the actions taken to reduce armed conflict is clearly needed. This book, which contains comprehensive information about armed conflicts and what is being done to reduce them, represents a start in that direction.

It reviews the wars that have existed since 1991 and tells how those not still in progress were ended. It reports on successful actions that have prevented violence. It describes various peace operations. It reviews successful peace agreements as well as those that failed. It gives brief descriptions of governmental, intergovernmental, and international nongovernmental peacebuilding organisations as well as donors and research organisations.

The facts indicate the need for a robust, integrated program to limit the extent of political violence in the world, including:

Research on cost-effectiveness of the different approaches to promoting peace to provide a factual basis for the allocation of resources

coordination among members of the peacebuilding community

making a strong case for more support for the peacebuilding community

Preliminary work in some of these areas has already begun. Much more is needed. The opportunity to reduce armed conflict is exciting! A collaborative, robust peacebuilding program can save many lives. The authors hope that this book will encourage members of the peacebuilding community to review the present situation and then to work together in developing and executing more effective actions to reduce the terrible human and economic cost of warfare.


1. For the whole story, see: George Wachira, Thomas Arendshorst & Simon Charles. Citizens in Action: Making Peace in the Post-Election Crisis in Kenya—2008. (Nairobi Peace Initiative―Africa: Nairobi, 2010). Available at: https://kroc.nd.edu/assets/229294/wachira_e_book.pdf (Accessed 07/05/2019)

2. See: http://www.warandpeacebuilding.org/ (Accessed 07/05/2019)


wars since 1991

On 25 December 1991, Soviet officials lowered the hammer and sickle from its perch over the Kremlin for the last time, signalling the end of the Cold War. After four decades of proxy conflicts, wars of liberation, and the ever-present threat of nuclear Armageddon, many believed that the demise of one of the world’s superpowers signalled the “end of history” and would usher in an era of peace, prosperity, and political consensus.1 The reality, however, was quite the opposite. As the great clash of twentieth century ideologies receded, conflicts which had previously been contained by Cold War rivalry erupted, new struggles emerged, and many states left their populations mired in instability and violence as they collapsed. This chapter provides an overview of every war that has taken place in the years that followed. Each entry includes information regarding the time and location of each war as well as brief descriptions of what caused them. The entries for those wars which have started since 1991 contain information regarding how the war started, while the cases in which a war has ended since 1991 include a description of the factors which ended the conflict. Information concerning a total of 48 wars is included in this chapter, 11 of which were already taking place in 1991 and 13 of which continue at the time of writing. The list is followed by a series of tables containing the data in ←7 | 8→a condensed format, along with insights provided by the quantitative analysis of the characteristics of the wars.


Wars. This volume defines “war” as a politically motivated armed conflict which has directly led to the deaths of at least 1,000 people. This definition was inspired by the work of David Singer and Melvin Small, the founders of the Correlates of War Project, who state that war is “sustained combat, involving organised armed forces, resulting in a minimum of 1,000 battle-related fatalities.”2 For the purposes of their project, the parameters were later limited to conflicts with 1,000 battle-related fatalities per year (rather than in total), however their original definition offered the most appropriate criteria for gathering the information on war that is presented below. This definition is shared with the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, which stipulates that while an armed conflict is defined by a threshold of 25 battle-deaths per year, when more than 1,000 battle-deaths occur, the conflict reaches the intensity of a war.*

Based on this definition, there have been 48 wars that have taken place since 1991. Of these, 37 began in 1991 or after, while an additional 11 started before 1991. Thirteen of the wars in this report are continuing at the time of writing. Each war has been categorised into one of five types of conflict, the terms and parameters of which were inspired by the framework used by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. They are:

A. Interstate—A conflict between two or more governments.

B. Intrastate—A conflict between a government and a non-governmental party; with no interference from other countries.

C. Intrastate with foreign involvement−An armed conflict between a government and a non-government party where the government side, the opposing side, or both sides, receive troop support from other governments that actively participate in the conflict.

←8 | 9→

D. Extrastate—A conflict between a government and a non-government party which can take place outside the boundaries of the state.

E. Non-state—A conflict between two non-government parties.

Wars Started. In some cases, the start of a war is signalled by a formal declaration by one or more of the belligerent parties. However, in many intrastate conflicts such announcements are rare and as a result, identifying the moment in which instability, non-violent conflict, and infrequent politically-motivated acts of violence escalate into war is problematic. Where possible, a specific date is given for each entry in the list, but in some cases an approximate time-period is offered instead. This report considers wars in which the violence subsides for short durations of time, due to ceasefires or other factors, to be a single conflict. Examples of such conflicts include the war in Ivory Coast between 2002 and 2011 and in Yemen from 2004 until the present day. In order to facilitate quantitative analysis of the causes of war, each case included in this report that has started since 1991 has been placed into one of six categories, based on the circumstances in which it began. These categories are:

1. Invasion/external subversion

2. Dispute over land/resources

3. Revolution/coup d’état

4. State collapse

5. Separatism

6. Political exclusion/oppression

Each entry in this chapter has been allocated a value of 1. In the cases where a single category from the list above is judged to have caused conflict, that category has been allocated the full value of 1. However, in many cases, wars began for a multitude of reasons. In cases where two of the factors were equally significant causes for conflict, those categories have been allocated a value of 0.5 each. When aggregated together, the data in this section provides an insight into which factors have been most significant in starting wars since 1991.

Wars Ended. In addition to offering information and data regarding the causes of wars, this chapter also provides an assessment of what ends wars. Defining the moment when a war ends is as problematic as identifying when they begin. Although in some cases a victory on the battlefield or the signing of a peace agreement provides a definitive end to a war, it often takes years for peace to be established. Furthermore, many wars are so complex that a succession of battlefield victories or agreements are needed to end the conflict. This volume ←9 | 10→defines the end of a war as when politically motivated armed conflict ceases for over one year and the cessation in hostilities has been formalised through a peace agreement, political developments, or the victory of one side of the conflict. These criteria have led to the omission of some wars which many may argue have ended in the given timeframe. Throughout the timeframe of this chapter, for example, the Second Intifada, the 2008–2009 conflict in Gaza, and the 2014 conflict in Gaza have all taken place in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, as outbreaks of armed conflict preceded these events and remained pervasive between them, and the context in which the conflict is taking place remains largely unchanged, these are not considered as separate wars. Likewise, the conflict in Afghanistan has continued without pause since 2001 and is considered a single conflict, despite the participants of the conflict changing. Furthermore, it should be noted that wars which ended in 1991, such as the Gulf War, are not included. Each war that has ended since 1991 is placed into one or more of the following categories:

1. A peace agreement negotiated with assistance from external governmental bodies.

2. A peace agreement negotiated with assistance from external non-governmental bodies.

3. A peace agreement negotiated by the belligerents.

4. Domestic reforms.

5. International intervention.

6. The victory of one side.

As with the analysis of how wars started, each war that has ended has been allocated a value of 1. When the reason for the ending of the war is the result of one of the above categories, that category has been allocated the full value of 1. When two of the categories have both significantly contributed to the ending of the war, each has been allocated a value of 0.5. When analysed together, the data reveals the main factors which have led to wars ending since 1991.

The Wars

Afghanistan, 1992–1996

Type: Intrastate conflict with foreign involvement.

←10 |

Started by: Revolution/coup d’état.(1)

In 1978, a military coup known as the Saur Revolution brought the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan to power. This led to a decade of conflict between the Soviet-backed government and an array of rebel forces, many of which received support from external powers such as the USA. Mohammed Najibullah was selected by the Soviet leadership to be President of Afghanistan in 1986 and took office the following year, however he was unable to consolidate his control of the country despite considerable military assistance from the Soviets. He survived an attempted coup in 1990, following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, but soon began implementing reforms and offering concessions to those groups opposed to his rule. Isolated conflicts involving the forces of Najibullah’s regime (which continued to receive support from the Soviet Union) and rebel groups continued throughout 1990 and 1991. In September 1991, the governments of the Soviet Union and the USA agreed to cut military assistance to their respective clients in Afghanistan. Six months later, Najibullah was ousted from office and replaced by a fragile interim government. Disputes over who should take up the presidency escalated, and the country soon fell into civil war.

Ended by: The victory of one side, 27 September 1996.(1)

The war in Afghanistan was fought between a wide range of armed groups. Most of the fighting was centred on the capital, Kabul, and a range of strategic towns around the country. The Taliban only emerged as a significant force in October 1994, but quickly took ground and, by March 1995, they controlled about a third of Afghanistan. In September 1996, Taliban forces took Jalalabad and Kabul, but the country remained unstable and fighting continued in many areas. Thousands of volunteers from Pakistan fought alongside the Taliban in this later phase of the conflict as they attempted to pacify the remaining opposition. By 2000, the Taliban controlled approximately 90 percent of Afghan territory, however the administration they established was only recognised by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.3

Afghanistan, 2001–Present Day


XVI, 346
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XVI, 346 pp., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Elliot Short (Author) Milt Lauenstein (Author)

Dr Elliot Short, a British historian, compiled the data. He has researched and published on conflict, statebuilding, and defence reform in the Western Balkans. Milt Lauenstein, after 50 years in business management, turned to peacebuilding as a second career in 2001. He has been initiating and funding work to reduce political violence ever since.


Title: Peace and Conflict Since 1991
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