The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 33 Issue 3
In 2011, there were 26 active armed conflicts worldwide, an increase of two from the previous year. Two new conflicts were added and none were removed.
A significant development in global armed conflict in 2011 was a series of pro-democracy movements—beginning in December 2010 and continuing throughout 2011—that swept the Middle East and North Africa and came to be known as the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening.
Most Arab Spring movements shared certain features: largely peaceful demonstrations that drew people from across social, age, class, and gender lines; the absence of a single leader or group spearheading the uprisings; and the use of the Internet, specifically social media, as a rallying point. But they also differed significantly: in the specific demands of the protestors, the response of security forces during the uprisings, the levels of violence, and the role of the international community. These differences and the complex questions they raised about how to address and resolve the conflicts underscore the changing nature of armed conflict in the 21st century.
Of the numerous countries that were affected by the Arab Spring, the events in only three—Yemen, which has been on the Armed Conflicts Report since 2004, and Libya and Syria, which were added in 2012—met Ploughshares’ definition of an armed conflict and were included in the 2012 ACR.
With the two additional conflicts from the Arab Spring added to the ACR, the balance of conflict worldwide remains substantially unchanged from previous years. Africa and Asia continue to host three-quarters of the world’s conflicts. Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East combined host only one-quarter.