Our focus for this issue is on the organized violence that occurred in September 2023, as well as the recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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UCDP Newsletter #18



The quest for peace in the Caucasus continues

Director's note

Welcome to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) Newsletter!

Our focus for this issue is on the organized violence that occurred in September 2023, as well as the recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On 19-20 September 2023, Azerbaijan embarked on a military operation against the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, a region known as Nagorno-Karabakh. While this region is part of Azerbaijan as per international recognition, it has been predominantly inhabited by Armenians. The contention over Nagorno-Karabakh has historical roots dating back to the early 20th century. The Soviet era temporarily subdued the conflict, but it resurged in the late 1980s, leading to the First Nagorno-Karabakh War that ended in 1994. Tensions never truly disappeared, however. The area witnessed a significant conflict in 2020 with the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, and by the beginning of September 2023, signs of another military escalation were apparent. Following the latest military operation, the Republic of Artsakh announced the enclave's dissolution effective 1 January 2024. For more information about the recent developments, please continue reading below.

It should also be noted that we are closely monitoring the current developments in Israel-Palestine. We will publish preliminary data on the conflict in our next GED Candidate release.

Your feedback and suggestions are important to us. Please do not hesitate to reach out at ucdp@pcr.uu.se.

Best regards,
Magnus Öberg
UCDP Director


Mert Can Yilmaz, Uppsala Conflict Data Program

In September 2023, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East observed a decline in fatalities due to organized violence compared to the previous month, whereas Africa and Asia maintained a consistent level of violence.

The five deadliest state-based conflicts in September 2023 included Russia-Ukraine, Somalia: Government, Sudan: Government, Azerbaijan: Artsakh, and Burkina Faso: Government.

Mexico witnessed a significant number of non-state confrontations that resulted in over 260 deaths as rival cartels clashed with each other. The Jalisco Cartel New Generation kept being the most active group in fatal incidents of organized violence in the country. Syria and Brazil also grappled with notable non-state conflicts.

Moreover, September 2023 saw grave one-sided violence in Ethiopia. More than 40 civilians fell victim to the Fano group, while over 30 were targeted by Ethiopian government forces. The Democratic Republic of Congo endured significant one-sided violence as various non-state factions, with IS being the most aggressive, purposely aimed at civilians. Concurrently, Myanmar's state forces persistently targeted civilians, resulting in over 40 civilian deaths.

Source: UCDP Candidate Events Dataset 23.0.9

The quest for peace in the Caucasus continues

Mert Can Yilmaz, Uppsala Conflict Data Program

The Nagorno-Karabakh region, a focal point of long-standing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, witnessed another chapter of conflict on 19-20 September, ending in the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh's surrender. The aftermath has seen tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing the region, prompting concerns about the future stability and peace in the South Caucasus.

Both modern-day Armenia and Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Nagorno-Karabakh, predominantly ethnically Armenian, was under Azerbaijani control. As the Soviet Union crumbled in the late 1980s, the region's parliament voted to join Armenia, sparking violent incidents and eventually a full-fledged war. After significant bloodshed, a Russian-brokered ceasefire in 1994 ended the active hostilities but not the underlying tensions. The 2020 war rekindled these tensions, leading to significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan.

The recent flare-up started on 19 September, and on 20 September, both parties agreed to a Russian-mediated ceasefire, halting a day of intense combat. UCDP recorded that over 430 people were killed during the clashes. Following the ceasefire, Armenian forces in the region were fully disarmed, and discussions about the integration of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan began. Samvel Shahramanyan, the region's separatist leader, also declared the dissolution of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh by the beginning of 2024, marking an end to their bid for independence. In the week following the ceasefire, over half of the estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians fled the territory. This exodus raised concerns about ethnic tensions.

Regional powers, especially Turkey and Russia, have always been influential stakeholders in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Turkey, sharing cultural and historical bonds with Azerbaijan, has been an avid supporter, particularly in the 2020 conflict, where Turkish-made drones played a pivotal role.

Meanwhile, Armenia has traditionally aligned with Russia, hosting a Russian military base and being a part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). However, recent developments have strained this alliance. Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, criticized Russian peacekeeping efforts and questioned the benefits of CSTO membership. This, along with Armenia's recent tilt towards the West and its move to join the International Criminal Court, has elicited strong responses from Moscow.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been making efforts to negotiate a peace treaty, and Pashinyan has recently conveyed his desire to finalize an agreement with Azerbaijan in the upcoming months. However, despite this commitment to peace, there seems to be still some challenges that need to be addressed.

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) is the world’s main provider of data on organized violence and the oldest ongoing data collection project for civil war, with a history of almost 40 years. Its definition of armed conflict has become the global standard of how conflicts are systematically defined and studied.


Uppsala Conflıct Data Program

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For your questions or comments, please contact us at ucdp@pcr.uu.se.

Don't forget to check out UCDP Encylopedia to read more about the conflicts around the world.

The UCDP is based at Uppsala University's Department of Peace and Conflict Research.

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