'The Russian Federation's war of aggression against Ukraine has exacted a devastating toll on the Ukrainian civilian population. Mounting an adequate humanitarian response will hinge on properly quantifying its scale and nature—never an easy task in a conflict zone, and immeasurably harder amid the fog of disinformation.
Are we on track towards peace? This question is essential to planning, developing, and evaluating any peacebuilding project, but the answer is contingent on data availability. To this end, the Global Violent Deaths (GVD) database, developed and updated regularly by the Small Arms Survey since 2004, collects information on direct conflict deaths and intentional homicides, which is combined in a single violent deaths indicator.
The GVD database collates data on homicides and direct conflict deaths into a single ‘violent death’ indicator (not including suicides), dating back to 2004.
'Though difficult to fathom as war rages in Ukraine, the years preceding the Russian invasion actually saw a reduction in global lethal violence. According to the latest update of the Small Arms Survey's Global Violent Deaths (GVD) database, loss of life resulting from interpersonal violence decreased substantially between 2016 and 2020. This decline suggests that the world has been making progress towards Target 16.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), under which states committed to 'significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere' by 2030.
In this episode of the Small Arms Survey podcast series, Small Arms Survey consultant Hana Salama—author of our February 2018 Briefing Paper Counting Casualties: Operationalizing SDG 16.1.2 in Libya—speaks about the challenges involved in measuring casualties in conflict settings.
The year 2018 was characterized by a decrease in lethal violence in several of the world’s hotspots, primarily due to a significant de-escalation of the armed conflicts in Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Syria. The homicide rate also decreased marginally due to population growth outpacing the nominal increase in killings between 2017 and 2018.
The year 2017 saw the second highest annual rate of global violent deaths in the period 2004–17, according to this Briefing Paper from the Small Arms Survey.
Although Libya's estimated rate of violent deaths is still far below those of Syria and several Central American nations, it remains significant, ranking eighth globally for 2016. This unenviable situation is symptomatic of the ongoing turmoil and instability facing the country since 2011.
Lethal violence claimed 560,000 lives in 2016—more than one person every minute of every day of the year.