Naming War, Counting the Dead: Ploughshares’ Armed Conflicts Report in Perspective

Tasneem Jamal Armed Conflicts

Christina Woolner

The Ploughshares Monitor Autumn 2009 Volume 30 Issue 3

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While war and peace have long been topics of study, the systematic collection of conflict data is relatively recent (Eck 2005, p. 5).

Project Ploughshares’ Armed Conflicts Report (ACR), begun in 1987, emerged alongside other conflict data projects undertaken by academic institutions, individual scholars, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and others in the 1980s and 1990s (Eck 2005, pp. 5-6). With similar goals to better understand conflict trends, these conflict data projects still vary in their definitions of conflict, the aspects of conflict examined, and how data is collected and interpreted. These variations in turn determine the conflicts included by each project.

Recently I compared the data collected over a five-year period (2003-2007) by three projects with similar, though critically different, definitions of conflict: the Uppsala Conflict Data Project (UCDP), the Conflict Barometer of the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), and Ploughshares’ ACR.1 My aim was to investigate the extent to which different aspects of a project’s definition informed the datasets, and how these variations could be linked to the theoretical underpinnings of a given project. This study illustrates how Ploughshares’ ACR is both similar to, and different from, other conflict data projects.

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