Taliban Humvee in Kabul, August 2021. Photo: Voice of America News, via Wikimedia Commons

The 2021 update of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) data on organized violence is now available. It reveals that at least 119,000 people died as a result of organized violence in 2021. This is an increase of 46 percent compared to the year before and the highest figure since 2015.

Recent years have seen Africa gradually overtake the Middle East in driving the trend in organized violence; a tendency which continued in 2021. As for the situation in Asia, it worsened as a result of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Myanmar, while violence in Europe remained at a low level in 2021, despite increased tensions in the run-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022.

​After a steady decline in conflict violence for several years, we now unfortunately see that the trend has reversed. It is primarily the sharply escalated violence in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen that has contributed to this increase. 
— Shawn Davies, research assistant at UCDP.

A crucial factor in several of the recent major conflicts has been the availability of military unmanned aerial vehicles, so-called drones, for information retrieval and missile attacks.

In conflicts such as the one in Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and the one in Ethiopia, we have seen that reconnaissance and combat drones have reversed the development in the conflict. In addition to providing information on real-time troop movements, drones also make it easier to attack targets well within the front lines. 
— Thérese Pettersson, research coordinator at UCDP. 

The updated conflict data are published in

Shawn Davies, Thérese Pettersson, Magnus Öberg (2022) Organized violence 1989–2021 and drone warfare, Journal of Peace Research, DOI: 10.1177/00223433221108428

For further information, contact Scott Gates, editor of Journal of Peace Research – tel. +47 916 48 367 or email scott@prio.org