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41 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 523 (2002-2003)
Maximizing the Achievement of Women's Human Rights in Conflict-Transformation: The Case of Sri Lanka

handle is hein.journals/cjtl41 and id is 531 raw text is: Maximizing the Achievement of Women's
Human Rights in Conflict-Transformation:
The Case of Sri Lanka
SUNILA ABEYSEKERA*
I.     INTRODUCTION
The second half of the twentieth century was marked by a
proliferation of small wars.' Some of these conflicts were
undeclared, defined by Latin American political analysts as dirty
wars (guerra sucia), and by military experts as low-intensity
conflicts. Between 1990 and 2000, 118 armed conflicts took place in
different parts of the world.2 Over six million people are estimated to
have died as a consequence.3 A large percentage of conflict-related
casualties involve civilian non-combatants. According to the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), eighty
percent of those who flee their countries in the course of a conflict are
women.4
Civil wars and internal conflicts are a catastrophe for ordinary
people, especially for civilians caught in crossfire, who are rendered
homeless and displaced as a consequence of the fighting.          The
fundamental causes of violent conflict may be found in broader
social, economic, and political contexts in which poverty, deprivation,
denial of    access  to  political power, lack     of representation,
discrimination, and competition for scarce resources marginalize
Sunila Abeysekera is a human rights activist and Director of INFORM, a human
rights documentation center based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1998, Ms. Abeysekera
received the United Nations Human Rights Award for her work.
1. Internal conflicts based on ethnic, religious, or other differences, for example, that
often escape world attention.
2. Dan Smith, Trends and Causes of Armed Conflicts, in BERGHOF HANDBOOK FOR
CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION 5 (Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict
Management 2001), available at http://www.berghof-center.org/handbook/smith/final.pdf.
3. Id.
4. U.N. HIGH COMM'R FOR REFUGEES, THE STATE OF THE WORLD'S REFUGEES 1993:
THE CHALLENGE OF PROTECTION 87 (1993).

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