Today, 94% of worldwide violent conflicts are intra-state wars, fought in the southern hemisphere between governments and opposing rebel and/or secessionist groups. Since the end of the Cold War, and in the context of intensified globalization, some striking features of these violent conflicts, which some observers have called “new wars,” have attracted considerable attention. While an open confrontation between two or more states typifies conventional warfare, modern-day conflicts tend to be international or civil wars of low-intensity that involve a number of transnational connections, so that the distinctions between internal and external, aggression and repression, local and global have become difficult to ascertain. One of the most decisive aspects of new wars is the amplified role of economic factors in both causing and sustaining conflict. The end of the Cold War, with its attendant withdrawal of superpower patronage for proxy wars, has led combatants and aspiring combatants to seek out new sources of funds. The trend toward market liberalization has provided fighters with alternatives to the more traditional source of Cold War funds. In addition, while during the twentieth century military personnel were employees of the state, wars are nowadays increasingly fought with mercenaries and people who work for security firms. Private sector funds, therefore, have also become an important source of funding for conflicts.
Beatrice Mosello is a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. After having completed a Bachelor degree in Development Studies at the University of Pavia (Italy), in 2008 she obtained a Masters in Political Science at the Graduate Institute with a thesis on multilateral cooperation on the issue of conflict diamonds, for which she won a prize from the Association des Fonctionnaires Interna-tionaux Suisses (AFIS). After completing an internship at the Italian Mission to the United Nations in New York, she was a research assistant at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in the Gender and Security programme, dealing primarily with mainstreaming gender into security sector reform in post-conflict contexts. She is currently employed as a research assistant at the Graduate Institute of International Studies within the framework of the European Un-ion-funded ACQWA project, investigating the socio-economic drivers of climate change.