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


1.      Bolivia - Narcotics production and trafficking and related violence; clashes continue between the government and coca farmers over the forced eradication of the illegal crop used to produce cocaine, civil unrest rises while the economic plight worsens in South America’s poorest country.

2.      Colombia - Drug War; FARC and ELN rebel groups against government forces and paramilitaries; hostage / kidnapping; peace process failed at the beginning of the year; reports that the Irish Republican Army is training FARC guerillas; spillover into Venezuela and Panama

3.      Haiti - Violent clashes between anti-government protestors and supporters of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide paralyze the already fragile economy; narcotics trafficking and related violence; unchecked mob violence.

4.      Peru - Bomb explosion outside US Embassy to deter President Bush from visit in March, state of emergency declared and army sent to violent protests regarding country's decision to privatize electric company; reports that Navy has for years "tortured" recruits; Maoist rebels killing police.

5.      Venezuela - Attempted coup; economic crisis sees Bolivar plummet against the US dollar; government forced shutdown of media; violent protests.

Europe and Russia

6.      Georgia - Georgian government has very little control of Pnski and is full of Chechnyan terrorists; Russia is fighting to place its own forces in the area to clean up the terrorists, which has led to a continuous clash between Russia and Georgia.

7.      Kosovo - Narcotics trafficking and related violence; human trafficking, drug and alcohol smuggling and related violence; continual inter-ethnic violence; unchecked organized crime.

8.      Russia - Violence with separatists from Chechnya continues; violence has spilled over into Georgia; Chechnyans have stepped up violent acts in Moscow and in other parts of the country.

9.      Spain -  ETA more active, Was founded with the aim of creating an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region; many terrorists acts in the country; low-grade dispute with Morocco over Perejill Island; Batsuana seen as ETA's political arm

10.  Turkey - Residual violence from Kurdish separatists and other militant groups such as the Turkish Worker’s and Peasant’s Liberation Army; vacillating tensions with Greece over the status of Cyprus and the Turkish Northern Republic of Cyprus as discussion over the island’s candidacy for the European Union advance.

11.  United Kingdom - Residual Violence in Northern Ireland; bombings continue and the British government re-established its authority in the province suspending the so-called home-rule where local Catholics and Protestants share power in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Asia - Pacific

12.  Afghanistan - Residual fighting following Operation Enduring Freedom; tensions between central government and local tribesmen; criminality; political assassination of Vice President; assassination attempt against President Karzai; one of the world's leading source for Opium trade.

13.  Bangladesh - Civil unrest and violent crime caused the government to call in Army to restore order and sweep out criminals; human trafficking; hotbed of radical Islamists; reports of Army torture interrogations; Indian-Tripura separatists based in Bangladesh.

14.  Burma - Ethnic fighting between the Burman military and the minority Shan rebels and the Karen National Union on the Thai border; Thai army fires shells into Burmese territory and confronts the ethnic Wa guerillas; religious repression.

15.  Cambodia - Human trafficking; failure of police to intervene in organized crime; civil unrest; narcotics trafficking and related violence, widespread hijackings and kidnappings.

16.  China - Uighur Muslim separatists in Xinjing province; violent suppression of Faun ong movement; heightened tensions with Taiwan; religious repression.

17.  East Timor - Six months after the May Independence of East Timor from Indonesia, student protests escalate into major riots and civil unrest; residual religious violence between Christians and Muslims 

18.  India - Pakistan-sponsored guerilla violence in Kashmir; sectarian, ethnic, and separatist violence in east province of Assam.

19.  Indonesia - Major terrorist attack on nightclub in Bali kills 180; militia and separatists violence in Irian Jaya, the Molucca and Spice Islands; West Timor, and Aceh, as well as tensions with East Timor before its independence; violent civil unrest, ethnic violence on Borneo between Madurese and Dayak; political violence in East Java; religious violence on Sulawesi island blamed on Laskar Jihad.

20.  Kyrgyz Republic - Assassination attempt on Kyrgyz National Security Advisor; many foreign diplomats killed; violent demonstrations; incursion by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; narcotics trafficking and related violence; terrorism; used as a base by Uighur militants.

21.  Nepal - Maoist guerilla insurgency; accusations of human rights violations on both Neapli security forces and insurgents; Nepal's Prime Minister declares a state of emergency extending his rule; terrorism; civil unrest.

22.  North Korea - North and South Korean naval vessels wage a gun battle in the Yellow Sea along a disputed sea border, the worst such skirmish for three years; violent political and religious repression…jump-start of Nuclear Weapons program against agreements.

23.  Pakistan -  De facto Sponsor of guerilla war in Kashmir and cross border attacks in India; widespread sectarian violence and terrorism; causing extreme tension with India; test fire medium range surface-to-surface Ghauri missiles; source of proliferation.

24.  Philippines - October terrorist attacks in Zamboanga believed to be tied to Osma bin Laden; US Special Forces deployed to assist in fighting rebels; hostage crisis targeting foreigners; Muslim insurgency and related violence.

25.  Solomon Islands - Inter-factional disputes between the natives of the island Malaita and the current inhabitants; related gang violence; civil unrest.

26.  Uzbekistan - Insurgency of Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan; narcotics trafficking and related violence; curtailment of civil rights and democratization.

North Africa and the Middle East

27.  Algeria - Internal strife and terror attacks, caused by Islamic extremists; the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) is accused of attacking primarily civilians and Salafist Group for Predication and Combat (GSPC) who targets military installations; residual violence in the Kabylie region with Berber secessionists.

28.  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.

29.  Iraq - continued bombings by Allied Air Forces patrolling no-fly zones; possible development of weapons of mass destruction; suppression of Kurdish and Shi’ite insurgents; regime violence against opponents; sponsor of international terrorism.

30.  Israel - Escalation in religious and ethnic violence and response to the continuing Intifada; terrorism by Hamas and other Islamic radical groups; terrorist attacks on Israeli forces throughout region.

31.  Jordan - US diplomat Laurence Foley is the first Western diplomat killed in Jordan; violent riots over Governmental policies; clashes with police over security sweeps.

32.  Kuwait - Continued hostilies against US servicemen, by what officials believe it is terrorist attacks; Iraq military opening fire on Kuwaiti vessels.

33.  Lebanon - Syrian backed terrorist group Hezbollah attacking Israeli forces with rockets and mortars; Israel counter attacking.

34.  Tunisia - al-Qaeda terrorist attack on a synagogue in the resort of Djerba, the blast killed 19.

35.  Yemen - Terrorist attacks against a French oil tanker; small arms proliferation; hotbed of Islamic militant extremism

Saharan Africa

36.  Angola - Africa’s longest lasting civil war between UNITA and government forces; ceasefire signed in March after UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed; Defense Minister proclaims that "the war has ended" in August; risk of famine threatens the peace.

37.  Burundi - Fighting of the nine-year civil war intensifies leading up to peace talks between the Burundi Government and three rebel groups.  The National Liberation Front (FNL) and two wings of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) started the first-ever direct talks between the Tutsi government and Hutu rebels in August.

38.  Central African Republic - Failed coup against President Felix Patasse; rebels under former army chief General Francois Bozize fighting the government forces who are backed by Libyan forces; clashes on the CAR - Chad border between Central Africa's army and Chadian forces who are said to back Bozize.

39.  Chad - Four months after a signed a peace agreement ending three years of civil war, rebels of the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) resume fighting with the Chadian army; the northern rebels want President Deby to resign and signed the peace deal in January agreeing to the immediate ceasefire, release of prisoners, rebel integration into the national army and government jobs for MDJT leaders.

40.  Congo - Re-ignition of intense violence between Congolese government and "Ninja" militiamen killing hundreds and driving thousands from their homes in the capital area.

41.  Congo, Democratic Republic of - Residual violence continues after a peace deal is signed in July and Uganda/Rwanda have pulled back forces following the DRC civil war since 1998 pitted the government forces; supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

42.  Ghana - Ethnic and political violence flare up in Northern Ghana and a State of Emergency is declared; rivalries are between the Andani and Abudu clans in the city of Yendi where fighting has cost the life of the king of Ghana's influential Dagomba tribe.

43.  Guinea - Residual violence from the ethnic tensions brought on from refugees from Sierra Leone increasing the strain on the Guinean economy.

44.  Ivory Coast - Military uprising after failed coup between loyal and mutinous soldiers spreads from city to city, cease-fire is agreed to in October but re-emerged political and ethnic fighting ends the six-week-long truce; widespread human rights violations.

45.  Kenya - Simultaneous terrorist attacks on 28 November: three suicide car bombers target an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa killing 13 people as well as themselves, minutes later two missiles were fired at an Israeli jet which had taken off from the city's airport.

46.  Liberia - Residual fighting between Liberian army and rebel faction forces in the North has spread to the capital city Monrovia, rebels from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) have been waging a low-level insurrection in northern Liberia for two years; President Charles Taylor declared a State of Emergency banning political rallies and public gatherings which was then later lifted; the conflict threatens to spillover into Sierra Leone and Guinea.

47.  Nigeria - severe ethnic and religious violence, particularly in areas implementing Islamic law; widespread violent civil unrest; unchecked violent crime; issuance of a "fatwa" or religious decree to kill journalist who linked Mohammed with the Miss World beauty contest.

48.  Senegal - Separatist rebel group Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) continues fighting in the southern Casamance region; MFDC continues its 20-year struggle to create a separate state in southern Senegal despite peace talks in 2001, the separatist movement went through a series of splits and leadership changes which currently does not recognize the ceasefire.

49.  Somalia - Continued factional fighting between rival militias; financially motivated kidnapping, narcotics and weapons trafficking led by warlords who undermine government authority and maintain related violence; environment prone to possible terrorist haven.

50.  South Africa - deep-rooted racism and increased alcohol abuse spur racially motivated attacks and murders directed at land owners; foreigners and workers, lingering effects of apartheid; right-winged "Warriors of the Boer Nation" plant a series of bombs destroying a mosque and several railway lines in Soweto, the group is blamed for trying to ignite a "race war" and calls for the overthrow of the country's African National Congress government.

51.  Sudan - civil war against Christian and animist groups (SPLA) in the south; regime violence against opponents, particularly religious dissidents; peace talks convened and a short truce in fighting was agreed to but was broken by outbreak of violence and civil unrest.

52.  Uganda - Rebel group "Lord's Resistance Army" continues brutal attacks on villages even after President Museveni agrees to peace talks with the group; thousands have been kidnapped or displaced as a result of the insurgency.

53.  Zimbabwe - Land transfers from whites to blacks cause conflict between Zimbabwean “President for life” Maguabe not abiding by court rulings he feels are "unjust"; election violence; violent land reform; mob violence, including storming of white-owned farms; violent civil unrest against Mugabe government due to economic crisis and tainted elections.

Watch List

These countries did not meet the threshold of conflict zones, but should bear mentioning due to limited violence:  - Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Cameroon, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Greece, Guinea – Bissau, Honduras, Jamaica, Kosovo, Laos, Malaysia, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand.

This Year's Changes

New Countries on the 2002 List

1)   Cambodia 6)   Peru
2)   Congo 7)   Solomon Islands
3)   Jordan 8 )  South Africa
4)   Kuwait 10) Tunsia
5)   North Korea 11) Venezuela

Countries from the 2001 Conflict List Removed for 2002

1)   Cameroon 9)   Papua New Guinea
2)   Comoros 10) Sierra Leone
3)   Former Yugoslov Republic of Macedonia 11) Sri Lanka
4)   Gambia 12) Tajikistan
5)   Guinea - Bissau 13) Tanzania
6)   Jamaica 14) Thailand
7)   Malawi 15) United States of America
8)   Malaysia 16) Yugoslavia

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 are 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 shortsighted prediction was based on a uni-dimensional reading of the situation.  The National Defense Council Foundation (NDCF) World Conflict Report is intended to do better.

There were 59 conflicts in 2001 & 53 in 2002.

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 spillover of the 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 had failed to maintain the precedent set in the Gulf War, and as the 1990s progressed medium-intensity conflicts began to grow.  President Bush must now have to cope with an international system where invasion is again a cogent instrument of policy.  The pattern - from zero medium-intensity international conflicts just three years ago; neglect has fostered the six current conflicts.

Of the 53 conflicts surveyed in 2002, two stand out for their peculiarities.  The stupidest conflict in this year’s count is Nigeria  Early in the year, Nigeria was experiencing widespread problems with religious turmoil & violent crime.

While Nigeria wins the title of the stupidest conflict, the title of the most dangerous conflict goes to Iraq. This because the use of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons is almost a forgone conclusion.


Instability Indicators 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.

Conclusions for 2002

While the number of conflicts has gone down, the potential intensity has gone up dramatically. Accordingly, it is fairly clear that because of the lack of capability and responsibility of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) has resulted in a new form of threat NDCF calls the “Invisible WMD’s”, which our Intelligence sources will not admit to, the hostile country will not admit to, hence the public can not understand, which alters the equations of Politics, thereby impeding conflict resolution dramatically. Iraq and North Korea are examples of this new phenomenon. Sadly, in their future overt use, caused by acts of revenge or desperation, over-reaction by our allies or us, they will be a cascading feature. This could result in catastrophic consequences. The only effective counter-measure is enhanced Intelligence with early-on / pre-emeptive Special Operations & Low-Intensity Conflict solutions. These range from Special Operations Teams selectively targeting individuals or groups, thoroughly vetted assassinations, organizing Guerrilla movements as a counter-poise to hostile elements, Psychological Operations, among other techniques. Exorcising cancerous pockets, rather than killing an entire body is the object. Asymmetric warfare has changed the world. Adjusting our National Security Modis Operendi to take this into account is a must.

The National Defense Council Foundation

The National Defense Council Foundation 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 150 interns educated in patterns in conflict.

The research for this report was compiled over the course of 2002.  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 worldwide and is considered a leading expert on Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.  This material is (C) 2002 The National Defense Council Foundation.


For Further Information, Contact:

Major F. Andy Messing

The National Defense Council Foundation

1220 King Street

Suite 230

Alexandria, VA 22314


Tel: (703) 836-3443

Fax: (703) 836-5402