Counting Conflict Deaths
By Robert Muggah
It is impossible to register global progress in achieving peace without some basic measure of the frequency and intensity of armed conflict. The fundamental unit of armed conflict is the number of deaths arising over a period of time. And while a single indicator on conflict deaths is incomplete and insufficient to convey the manifold consequences of warfare, it is nevertheless the best proxy available. It should be central to monitoring Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 and its target to: “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere”. While conceptually challenging, measuring the deaths arising from armed conflict is methodologically feasible. This briefing note is intended to assist the Inter-Agency and Experts Group (IAEG) on SDG indicators in developing an indicator to track the number of “conflictrelated deaths per 100,000 people”. It is advisable that the selected metric (or metrics) account for both direct and indirect deaths.