Today, at the beginning of 2013, the world is confronted by a bewildering array of protracted and new armed conflicts: Syria, Gaza, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Myanmar, Mali, Chad, the Central African Republic, and Libya are just a few of the many parts of the world wracked by violent conflict. And, although some of the rhetoric about the burden of civilian suffering compared to military casualties in these so-called “new wars” may have been overblown (not least because civilians have always paid a heavy cost in war), there is little doubting that non-combatants remain firmly in the firing line. The injustices of war are legion and extend to killing, torture, mutilation, sexual and gender based violence and abuse, forced displacement, and much else. For all that the world’s governments proclaim their commitment to the protection of civilians of armed conflict, and for all the writings on the moral and legal constraints introduced over the past three millennia or so, war always produces more than its fair share of injustice.Read the rest of Reconciliation and the pursuit of peace.
Alex Bellamy is Professor of International Security at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University - Australia and Non-Resident Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute, New York. He is an Honorary Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He currently serves as Director of the Griffith Asia Institute's Human Protection Hub and Director (International) of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. His most recent book is Massacres and Morality: Mass Killing in an Age of Civilian Immunity (Oxford University Press, 2012).