See also: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

1) Afghanistan - civil war involving Hazaras, Northern Alliance, and Taliban militias; sponsors of international terrorism; multiple terrorist bombings in Kabul and Qandahar; regime violence against opponents; narcotics trafficking and related violence; kidnapping and other organized crime activities, particularly along the Iranian border

2) Albania - violent civil unrest and armed rioting surrounding arrest of former President Berisha; narcotics, human, and weapons trafficking and related violence

3) Algeria - civil war between government forces and Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and Da'wa wal Djihad; terrorism and assassination of public figures; paramilitary violence

4) Angola - civil war between UNITA and government forces; weapons, narcotics, and diamond smuggling and related violence; military intervention in Congolese civil war; spillover into Zambia and Namibia

5) Azerbaijan - violent civil unrest due surrounding fraudulent elections and energy shortages; political assassinations, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh; terrorism; spill-over from conflict in Chechnya; tensions with Armenia

6) Bangladesh - attacks by splinter groups in Chittagong; attempted assassination of President Sheikh Hasina; civil unrest; tensions along border with Burma; human trafficking and related violence

7) Bolivia - narcotics production and trafficking and related violence, particularly in response to government eradication efforts; violent civil unrest, some of which led to declaration of a state of emergency

8) Brazil - narcotics trafficking and related violence, particularly in western areas; used as a base and staging area by FARC and ELN narco-guerilla movements and Islamic radicals; unrest related to social inequalities

9) Burma (Myanmar) - violence along borders with Bangladesh, India, and Thailand; multiple ethnic insurgencies, including Naga and Karen rebellions; regime violence against opponents; narcotics trafficking and related violence

10) Burundi - civil war between Tutsi government and Hutu rebels; regime violence against opponents

11) Cambodia - guerilla and terrorist attacks blamed on the Cambodian Freedom Fighters; narcotics trafficking and related violence; used as a base by Burmese rebels; widespread hijackings and kidnappings, sometimes perpetrated by the military

12) Cameroon - mass killings and incursions into Nigeria by government-sponsored paramilitaries; government suppression of protests; unchecked violent crime, sometimes targeting foreigners

13) Chad - inter-ethnic violence; MDJT and CMAP insurgencies backed by foreign powers; regime violence against opponents

14) China - violent civil unrest; terrorism, particularly in Xinjiang Uighur; tensions over Spratly Islands and Taiwan; regime violence against opponents, particularly Falun Gong and other religious dissidents

15) Colombia - violent insurgencies by FARC and ELN narco-guerilla groups; narcotics trafficking and related violence; paramilitary terrorist activities and vigilante violence; political assassinations; kidnapping; spillover into Brazil, Ecuador and Panama

16) Comoros - attempted military coup; violent civil unrest; separatist movement in Anjouan

17) Congo (Kinshasa) - civil war, including intervention by Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Rwanda and Uganda; diamond smuggling and related violence; regime violence against opponents; civil unrest

18) Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - violent civil unrest and mass killings surrounding overthrow of Gen. Guei; regime violence against opponents under military government; religious and anti-foreigner violence; used as a base by Liberian rebels

19) East Timor - militia attacks by pro-Jakarta militias on foreign peacekeepers, civilians and relief agencies

20) Ecuador - coup led by Indians and junior military officers toppled President Mahuad; incursions by ELN and FARC narco-guerillas seeking safe havens; violent civil unrest; narcotics trafficking and related violence

21) El Salvador - expanded criminal activity and narcotics-related violence; growing tensions between former combatants; kidnapping and extortion

22) Eritrea - war against Ethiopia; used as a base by Sudanese insurgents

23) Ethiopia - war against Eritrea; banditry and militia violence along border with Somalia; used as a base by Kenyan militias

24) Fiji - multiple coups and attempted coups; ethnic violence; militia violence

25) Georgia - spillover from conflict in Chechnya, including raids by Islamic militants; attacks on foreigners and militia violence, particularly in breakaway regions of Abkhazia, Ajaria and Ossieta; terrorism; widespread kidnapping and banditry; civil unrest

26) Guinea - cross-border raids by Liberian rebel and government forces; attacks by Sierra Leone rebels; anti-foreigner violence targeting refugees; militia attacks

27) Guinea-Bissau - attempted military coup and corresponding militia violence

28) Haiti - continuing violent civil unrest, particularly surrounding presidential and parliamentary elections; insurrection by security forces; assassination of candidates for various political offices; unchecked mob and vigilante violence; narcotics trafficking and related violence

29) India - Pakistan-sponsored guerilla violence in Kashmir; sectarian, ethnic, and separatist violence

30) Indonesia - civil war and militia violence in Irian Jaya, the Molucca and Spice Islands; West Timor, and Aceh, as well as Indonesia-based militia raids on East Timor; violent civil unrest, including bombings in Jakarta and other major population centers

31) Iran - continued terror and guerilla campaigns by Marxist Mujahedin-i-Khalq; sponsor of international terrorism; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and build-up of conventional arms; regime violence against opponents; violent civil unrest; narcotics trafficking and related violence; kidnapping and banditry along border with Afghanistan

32) Iraq - continued bombings by Allied air forces patrolling no-fly zones; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; suppression of Kurdish and Shi'ite insurgents; regime violence against opponents; sponsor of international terrorism; incursions by Turkish forces in the north

33) Israel - religious and ethnic violence following Sharon visit to Temple Mount; terrorism by Hamas and other Islamic radical groups; terrorist attacks on Israeli forces in Lebanon, followed by militia raids across border after Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon

34) Kazakstan - invasion of disputed border region by Uzbekistan and killings of civilians attempting to cross Uzbek-Kazak border; attacks by Uighur militants; used as a staging area by Uighur terrorist groups; narcotics trafficking and related violence; weapons trafficking

35) Kosovo - continued inter-ethnic violence following last year's NATO intervention; violence against KFOR troops; narcotics and weapons trafficking and related violence; violent civil unrest; attacks by Kosovo-based militias against targets in Yugoslavia

36) Kyrgyz Republic - unrest surrounding re-election of President Akayev; incursion by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; narcotics trafficking and related violence; terrorism; used as a base by Uighur militants

37) Laos - fighting between Hmong rebels and government troops; terrorist bombing campaign of unknown origin; regime violence against opponents; narcotics trafficking and related violence

38) Lebanon - guerilla attacks and reprisals during Israeli occupation; continued violence as a result of Syrian occupation; expansion of terrorist and militia violence in south after Israeli withdrawal

39) Liberia - civil war, including repeated attacks by insurgent forces based in Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea; cross-border raids by government and opposition forces; violent civil unrest

40) Libya - severe rioting and violence targeting foreigners; support for insurgencies throughout Africa; narcotics trafficking and related violence; state sponsor of terrorism

41) Mexico - narcotics trafficking and related violence, including assassination of police chief in Tijuana; insurrections in Chiapas and Oaxaca by EZLN and EPR

42) Namibia - intervention in the Congolese civil war; spillover from the Angolan civil war, including attacks by Angolan government and UNITA forces on Namibian civilians

43) Nepal - Guerilla insurgency; terrorism, including violence targeting foreigners; civil unrest

44) Nigeria - severe ethnic and religious violence, particularly in areas implementing Islamic law; widespread violent civil unrest; unchecked violent crime

45) Pakistan - sponsor guerilla war against India in Kashmir and Taliban militia in Afghanistan; widespread sectarian violence and terrorism; violent civil unrest

46) Panama - narcotics and weapons trafficking and related violence; incursions by Colombian guerillas; violent civil unrest in rural regions

47) Paraguay - attempted military coup, followed by state of emergency; narcotics trafficking and related violence; used by various terrorist groups as a base, particularly near border with Brazil and Argentina

48) Peru - widespread political and civil unrest, particularly surrounding Fujimori election and resignation and Montesinos allegations; insurrection by military units; narcotics trafficking and related violence

49) Philippines - separatist violence by New People's Army and MILF; terrorism, including hostage crisis involving foreigners abducted from Malaysia; civil unrest surrounding impeachment of President Estrada; piracy; tensions with China over the Spratly Islands

50) Russia - separatist war in Chechnya; terrorism; organized crime, narcotics trafficking and related violence; units guarding Tajik border involved in fighting in Afghanistan and Tajikistan; weapons proliferation; regime violence against opponents

51) Rwanda - military conflicts with government of Congo and Uganda as a result of Rwandan intervention in Congo; continued domestic political violence as a result of 1994 civil war and genocide

52) Senegal - insurrection in Casamanche region; raids by rebels based in Guinea-Bissau and reprisal attacks by the Senegalese military; tensions with Mauritania

53) Sierra Leone - civil war between RUF and government, precipitating intervention by foreign troops; attacks on intervention forces by rebels; spillover into Liberia and Guinea; weapons and diamond smuggling and related violence

54) Solomon Islands - coup followed by multiple ethnic-based insurrections; weapons trafficking and related violence; terrorism

55) Somalia - ethnic and clan-based civil war; narcotics and weapons trafficking and related violence; regime violence against opponents in Somaliland and other areas; terrorism

56) Spain - renewed terrorist attacks by Basque separatists, including assassination of major political figures

57) Sri Lanka - war between the government and Tamils based primarily in the north; terrorism

58) Sudan - civil war against Christian and animist groups in the south; regime violence against opponents, particularly religious dissidents; spillover from civil war in Uganda; violent civil unrest

59) Tajikistan - continued unrest following civil war; spillover from conflict in Afghanistan; narcotics trafficking and related violence; used as a base by several terrorist groups, including Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

60) Tanzania - violent civil unrest surrounding elections, particularly after accusations of electoral rigging in Zanzibar; regime violence against opponents; terrorism; violence against refugees

61) Turkey - guerilla attacks by Kurdish separatists, leading to government raids into northern Iraq; terrorism; growing tensions with Greece

62) Uganda - military intervention in Congolese civil war, including fighting against Congolese government and Rwandan forces; insurgency in north by Lord's Resistance Army; terrorism

63) United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) - reprisal killings among Protestant and Catholic militias; terrorism

64) Uzbekistan - attempted incursion by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; narcotics trafficking and related violence; regime violence against opponents; invasion of southern Kazakstan and killings along Uzbek-Kazak border

65) Yemen - bombing of USS Cole and British embassy; widespread kidnapping for ransom by militias, including Aden-Abyan Islamic Army; sanctuary for Islamic terrorists

66) Yugoslavia (Serbia/Montenegro) - attacks by and against Kosovar militias in border areas; widespread civil unrest, particularly surrounding downfall of Slobodan Milosevic; regime violence against opponents under Milosevic; militia and vigilante violence; political assassinations

67) Zambia - spillover from war in Angola, including Angolan air raids on Zambian territory; assassinations of public figures; diamond and weapons trafficking and related violence

68) Zimbabwe - mob violence, including storming of white-owned farms; violent civil unrest against Mugabe government due to economic crisis and tainted elections, intervention in Congolese civil war

Watch List - These countries did not meet the threshold of conflict zones, but should bear mentioning due to limited violence: Bosnia, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia South Africa, Syria, and Thailand

 This Year’s Changes

 ·         New Countries on the 1999 List

1)   Albania   9) Kyrgyz Republic
2)   Bolivia 10) Laos
3)   Cameroon 11) Liberia
4)   Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 12) Libya
5)   El Salvador 13) Solomon Islands
6)   Fiji 14) Spain
7)   Guinea 15) Tanzania
8)   Kazakstan  

·         Countries from 1999 Removed for the 2000

  1. Armenia - reduced political violence
  2. Congo (Brazzaville) - reduced violence due to peace accord
  3. Egypt - falloff in Islamic radicalism, particularly since Islamic Brotherhood candidates were allowed to stand in elections
  4. Greece - reduction in terrorist activity
  5. Kenya - reduction in civil unrest
  6. Mauritania - reduced activity by Tuareg nomads
  7. Niger - return of civic order following restoration of democracy
  8. North Korea - no major assaults on South Korea in 2000, although tension remains along border
  9. Romania - mostly peaceful civil unrest and presidential elections
  10. South Africa - reduction in terrorist violence, although high crime rate remains
  11. South Korea - reduction in assaults and incursions from North Korea
  12. Syria - relative stability surrounding ascension of Bashir Assad, little direct conflict with Israelis following Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon

 Patterns of Conflict

The United States Army's Leadership Guide has a three step problem solving process - 1) Recognize the problem, 2) Make an estimate of the situation, and 3) Take action. This World Conflict Report is intended to address the first, most basic step in this process - determining the level and causes of conflict. This report is a threat assessment which we hope that policy makers will use to take action.

The criteria for inclusion on the conflict list is the level of political, social, economic and military disruption caused by the relevant conflict. This is inherently a subjective measure, thus, standardized criteria such as 1,000 deaths per conflict are not applied. Simply put, 1,000 deaths signify a lot more conflict in Nepal than in China. Understanding that political, social, economic and military problems interact and feed off of each other is critical to addressing conflict. For example, in 1992 the Center for Defense Information issued a report entitled "World at War 1992 - Fewer Wars, No Danger to the United States." In it, CDI claimed that wars were on the decline around the world, and that as a result U.S. defense spending was "tragically high." This short-sighted prediction was based on a unidimensional reading of the situation. The National Defense Council Foundation (NDCF) World Conflict Report is intended to do better.

Conflict in 2000 was up significantly over 1999, when the total count was 65. Overall, the 68 conflicts listed for 2000 represent one of the highest totals in the history of the report (see chart below). Generally speaking, the level of conflict globally is far higher than at the end of the Cold War, when the total was about 35. The stability of the bipolar Cold War system has clearly been replaced by a series of warm wars being fought at the low-intensity level.

The patterns in the conflict are telling. Generally speaking, the distribution of conflicts around the world has stayed mostly stable (see charts below). As has been true for the duration of NDCF studies, the most conflict-prone areas are in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, which together account for nearly half of all conflicts. The most significant change in geographical distribution is the rise of conflict in South/Central Asia, which has gone from 6 conflicts in 1997 to 10 in 2000. The rise of conflict in this region is primarily due to the spill-over of the civil war in Afghanistan, which acts like a cancer on the region, spreading to the weakest states and destabilizing even the strongest.


While the distribution of conflicts by region has been stable, in recent years there has been a sea change in the type of conflict. While the United States military is primarily geared to fight a medium-intensity international conflict with fronts, tanks, artillery, etc, a growing number of conflicts are low-intensity civil. Since low-intensity conflicts are fought primarily with small arms and using guerilla forces and terrorism, the current U.S. force structure is unprepared to meet this growing challenge.

Another important pattern is the growth of medium-intensity international conflicts. When the United States repelled the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s, it set a strong precedent that invasion was no longer an appropriate tool of diplomacy. As a result, unstable countries were far less likely to invade their neighbors, although low-intensity conflicts persisted. However, the Clinton administration has failed to maintain the precedent set in the Gulf War, and as the 1990s progressed medium-intensity conflicts began to grow. The next president will have to cope with an international system where invasion is again a cogent instrument of policy. The graphs below lay out the patterns - from zero medium-intensity international conflicts just three years ago neglect has fostered the six current conflicts.


Of the 68 conflicts surveyed here, two stand out for their peculiarities. The stupidest conflict in this year's count is Cameroon. Early in the year, Cameroon was experiencing widespread problems with violent crime. The government responded to this crisis by creating and arming militias and paramilitary groups to stamp out the crime extrajudicially. Now, while violent crime has fallen, the militias and paramilitaries have created far more chaos and death than crime ever would have. Indeed, as the year wore on mass graves were discovered that were tied to the paramilitary groups.

While Cameroon wins the title of the stupidest conflict, the title of the most dangerous conflict goes to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance is busy fighting the ultra-Islamic Taliban militia. Matters took a turn for the worse as the Taliban severed the Alliance's supply lines in capturing Taloqan this fall. Moreover, the ethnically Pustun Taliban have been ethnically cleansing Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks in the north, driving a wave of refugees into Central Asia. Not only is Afghanistan involved in a medium-intensity civil war of its own, but the Taliban militia sponsors terrorists and insurgents in China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. Additionally, Afghanistan has emerged as the world's number one source for opium, adding narcotics traffickers to the volatile war zone that is Afghanistan.


The Instability Indicators below reflect NDCF's analysis of which countries will be conflict areas in 2001. Using data such as the infant mortality rate, level of military influence on the government, and exposure to international trade, we generated a formula that gives each country a 0 to 100 rating for instability. The indicator is essentially our forecast for the conflict's temperature - at 100, the conflict boils, while at 0 it is nonexistent. The data is broken down into political, military, economic and social instability ratings that are totaled to reach the final indicator.

The 99.105 that is ascribed to Afghanistan is the highest total ever for a single country, meaning that Afghanistan will be more unstable than any other country has been for three years. The totals for the top ten countries, as well as some benchmark states, are listed below:


The NDCF compiles this list annually after reviewing potential conflicts in approximately 193 countries. NDCF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) non-partisan think tank that studies defense and foreign affairs. NDCF was established in 1978 and is located in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to academic analysis, NDCF runs relief operations in conjunction with fact-finding missions in conflict areas. To date, NDCF has delivered over 197 tons of medicine and food worldwide. The NDCF intern program has graduated over 125 interns educated in patterns in conflict.

The research for this report was compiled over the course of 2000. Primary research was done by NDCF interns; the report was drafted by Senior Fellow William D. Shingleton, who has just returned from sabbatical at Harvard University. Final editing and revisions were done by Major F. Andy Messing, Jr USAR (Ret.), Special Forces, executive director of NDCF. Major Messing has been to 27 conflicts world-wide and is considered a leading expert on Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. This material is ©2000-2001 The National Defense Council Foundation.

For Further Information, contact:
Major F. Andy Messing or William D. Shingleton
The National Defense Council Foundation
1220 King Street Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314

Tel: (703) 836-3443
Fax: (703) 836-5402