Education Resources

Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men?

Congolese soldiers wait for a flight to Kitoma at the Goma International Airport as part of a turn over of Congolese troops last December in the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire. (Photo: Gianluigi Guercia / AFP-Getty Images)

According to the Center for Systemic Peace the following table lists 23 episodes of armed conflict that comprise a comprehensive accounting of all forms of major armed conflicts in the world over the contemporary period: 1948-2004+. See below for descriptions of the headings.

Begin End Type Mag States Directly Involved Brief Description Deaths
1948 2004+ EW 4 Myanmar (Burma) Ethnic war (Karen, Shan, and others) (1) 100000
1952 2004+ EW 2 India Ethnic war (northeast tribals; Assam separatsts) 25000
1965 2004+ EW 2 Israel Ethnic war (Arab Palestinians/PLO) 20000
1968 2004+ EV 1 Spain Ethnic violence (Basque separatism) 1250
1972 2004+ EW 3 Philippines Ethnic warfare (Moros) 50000
1975 2004+ CV 1 Angola Civil violence (Cabinda separatists; FLEC) 3500
1984 2004+ CV 4 Colombia Civil violence (insurgency and drug lords) 50000
1986 2004+ EV 2 Uganda Ethnic violence (Langi and Acholi) 12000
1988 2004+ CW 5 Somalia Civil war 100000
1990 2004+ EW 3 India Ethnic war (Kashmiris) 35000
1991 2004+ CW 4 Algeria Civil warfare (Islamic militants) 60000
1993 2004+ EW 4 Burundi Ethnic warfare (Tutsis against Hutus) 100000
1996 2004+ CW 2 Nepal Civil war (UPF "People's War") 8000
1996 2004+ CW 5 Zaire Civil War (ouster of Mobutu & aftermath) 1500000
1997 2004+ EV 1 Indonesia Ethnic violence (Aceh; GAM militants) 3000
1997 2004+ EV 1 Nigeria Communal violence (Delta province; Ijaw, Itsekeri, and others) 1500
2001 2004+ EV 3 Nigeria Ethnic violence (Christian-Muslim; Plateau, Kano regions) 55000
1999 2004+ EW 4 Russia Ethnic war (Chechen separatists) 30000
2000 2004+ CW 2 Ivory Coast Civil war (north, south, and west divisions) 3000
2001 2004+ IW 3 Afghanistan/USA Ouster of Taliban; Hunt for al Qaeda 15000
2003 2004+ EV 4 Sudan Communal-separatist violence in Darfur 35000
2003 2004+ IW 5 Iraq (USA; UK) Invasion, ouster of Hussein-Ba'athist regime, and subsequent occupation 40000


Inclusive years (Begin and End): The beginnings and endings of most political violence episodes are difficult to determine exactly; various researchers "pinpoint" and denote various dates. The "begin" and "end" years listed for each episode (below) are those considered by the author to be those most likely to capture the transformative "moments" (beginning and ending) of the episodes, according to a comparison of the varying claims of the sources noted. No "end" year is listed for episodes that began and ended in the same year.

Episode type (Type): Episode type is listed according to two character codes. The first character denotes either a (C)ivil-intrastate involving rival political groups; (E)thnic-intrastate involving the state agent and a distinct ethnic group; or (I)nternational event-interstate, usually two or more states, but may denote a distinct polity resisting foreign domination (colonialism). The second character connotes either an episode of (V)iolence-the use of instrumental violence without necessarily exclusive goals; (W)ar-violence between distinct, exclusive groups with the intent to impose a unilateral result to the contention; or i(N)dependence-an attempt to forcibly remove an existing foreign domination.

Magnitude of societal-systemic impact (Mag): The rationale and methodology for assessing the societal and systemic impact of warfare episodes is discussed and described in detail in the accompanying text. The number listed represents a scaled indicator of the destructive impact, or magnitude, of the violent episode on the directly-affected society or societies on a scale of 1 (smallest) to 10 (greatest). Magnitude scores reflect multiple factors including state capabilities, interactive intensity (means and goals), area and scope of death and destruction, population displacement, and episode duration. Scores are considered to be consistently assigned (i.e., comparable) across episode types and for all states directly involved.

Episode location (States Directly Involved): Countries listed are only those upon whose territory the political violence episode actually takes place, that is, those state-societies directly affected by the warfare. Countries intervening in the episodes are not listed as the violence does not take place on their territory and, so, these intervening actors are considered to be indirectly, or remotely, affected by the violence.

Estimates of "directly-related" deaths (Deaths): Accountings of the number of deaths resulting directly from an episode of political violence are difficult to determine and estimates often vary widely. This difficulty is especially problematic as the distinction between combatants and non-combatants has grown increasingly obscure as "less formal" civil conflict interactions in less institutionalized societal systems predominate in the contemporary era. As argued in the text, such estimates of "battle-related deaths" should be regarded simply as estimates of the general magnitude of the violence. The numbers listed here reflect the median or mean of often widely disparate estimates listed in the various sources and are provided solely as a referent point. Casualties among non-combatants directly related to the violent conflict are inconsistently estimated (if at all) in the various source estimates. Far more problematic than "battle-related deaths" for societal systems are the much larger numbers of persons directly and indirectly, physically and psychologically, distorted and disturbed by violence during episodes of armed conflict (for this we have no estimation procedure).

(1) Ethnic separatist resistance in the border regions of Myanmar (Burma) includes several groups, such as the Kachins, Karen, Karreni, Mons, Rohingyas, Shan, Wa, and others. Because information on political activity in Myanmar has been, and continues to be, so poor, it has not been possible to list the rebellions separately despite the fact that there is little evidence of collusion between rebel groups.

Compiled by Monty G. Marshall
Director, Center for Systemic Peace