Below are explanations of each section within the Conflict Description:
The Conflict Descriptions report on the most recent full calendar year. For example, Conflict Descriptions for the Armed Conflicts Report 2011 cover the period January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 unless important events or developments occurred in early January, in which case the report will also include information from the first month of 2011.
The first entry for each conflict provides an overall summary of the conflict: what has happened over the year, including the number of fatalities (or trends), plus any significant changes that have occurred in any of the sections. (For example: a change in government or the emergence of a new rebel group.)
Project Ploughshares categorizes each conflict using simple typology of modern intrastate armed conflict based on three overlapping types: state control, state formation and state failure.
This section typically lists two main areas:
- The government and its allies
- The rebel factions
There may also be additional players participating in the conflict, such as regional or coalition forces (e.g. NATO in Afghanistan).
This section updates the various encounters during the year, who was involved and what the impact was in gains, loses, fatalities.
There are three parts to this section:
- Total: refers to the total number of fatalities since the beginning of the conflict
- Current year: covers only the death count for the year being documented
- Refugees: refers to the most recent statistics on refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
Political developments refer primarily to developments that have made matters worse (a newly elected leader who is more militant) or more hopeful (peace efforts). Attempts at peace negotiations (e.g. UN or regional body efforts) are included even if they appear to be going nowhere.
The background information provides a snapshot of the major events leading up to the conflict.
This section provides information about who is selling arms to the government or where the non-state combatants are getting weapons.
Typical economic factors include general conditions such as poverty and marginalization and conflict over natural resources (diamonds, oil, timber, etc.). Not every conflict has an Economic Factors section.