The record above is incomplete, as would be expected given the scope of the subject. A reader, familiar with the understanding of history prevalent in the global West may be satisfied to some degree as the principal events are outlined. A reader from the global South, particularly Africa, may well ask the question ‘is that it?’ and such a question would be well warranted, as the post-colonial wars in Africa have received little mention. In truth, they deserve more attention, an omission that the CARIS website hopes to address in the future. One explanation for the lack of focus on Africa, which is not the only region inadequately covered, is that international politics since the nineteenth century has been dominated by the wars over European territory and a Cold War confrontation between East and West, which refuses to go away. A second is that the holders of global military and diplomatic power, the ‘big five’ of the UN Security Council, take an interest in a region and act when it is in their interests (an admittedly realist viewpoint), with questionable results. The outcome, despite the valuable commitment of non-state actors, is that the resources devoted to the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts for the normative reasons of humanitarian concerns are vastly outweighed by the resources committed to the securing and safeguarding of resources and the national interests of powerful states. Three of the four trends prevalent in contemporary armed conflict presented above (the ‘terror wars’, the conflicts resulting from the ‘Arab Spring’, and the revived Cold War dynamic) are those with global implications that invoke the interests of the great powers. Our task is to address all armed conflicts, including the second theme (localised wars of ethnicity, identity, and religion) regardless of their interest or otherwise to the strategic interests of great powers.
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