Ethnic Problems

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Ethnic Problems

Ethnic Problems


Ethnic conflict is one of the major threats to international peace and security. The conflicts in the Balkans, Rwanda, Chechnya, Kosovo, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Darfur are only among the best-known and deadliest examples. The destabilization of provinces, states, and in some cases even whole regions are common consequences of ethnic violence. Ethnic conflicts are often accompanied by gross human rights violations such as genocide and crimes against humanity, economic decline, state failure, environmental problems, and refugee flows. Violent ethnic conflict leads to tremendous human suffering.

Despite the fact that the number of conflicts has declined over the past decades, ethnic turmoil remains one of the main sources of warfare and instability in major regions of the wor1d. Between 1945 and 1990, near1y 100 ethnic groups were involved in violent conflicts. During the 1990s, about three quarters of conflicts were disputes between politically organized ethnic groups and governments. More than one third of the wor1d's states were directly affected by serious internal warfare at some time during the 1990s, and of these states, near1y two thirds experienced armed conflicts for 7 years or longer during the decade. In 2006, all 32 ongoing conflicts were internal, 5 of which were internationalized; most of them were caused by ethnic issues. (Brown, 2001b)

A republic in southeast Europe, prior to February 2008, Kosovo was a province of Serbia. Kosovo was in the southernmost part of the Republic of Serbia, which had once formed part of the Republic of Yugoslavia. At that time it was officially known as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (Kosmet). Kosovo is bounded by Serbia on the north and east; Montenegro and Albania on the west; and Macedonia on the south. Its area is 10,887 km2 (4,203 mi2), and its population is 1,804,838 (2010 est.). The economy is mainly agricultural, although the Trepca region has lead mines and there is a metallurgical complex at Glogovac. Priština (2009 est. pop., 197,000) is the capital city. The district of Metohija is in the western part of the province, around the town of Pec. (Brown, 2001b)

Ethnic Identity, Ethnicity, and Ethnic Groups

The terms ethnic and ethnicity have their roots in the Greek word ethnos, which describes a community of common descent. In ethnic conflict research, the terms ethnic group, communal group, ethnic community, peoples, and minority are mostly used interchangeably. Two elements provide the basis to identify ethnic groups: first, the accentuation of cultural traits, and second, the sense that these traits distinguish the group from the members of the society who do not share the differentiating characteristic. These ethnic criteria, which provide the origins of communal identity, may include shared historical experiences and memories, myths of common descent, a common culture and ethnicity (including race), and a link with a historic territory or a homeland (which the group may or may not currently inhabit). Elements of common culture include language, religion, laws, customs, institutions, dress, music, crafts, architecture, and even ...
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