Both academic publications and public media often make inappropriate use of incommensurate conﬂict statistics, creating misleading impressions about patterns in global warfare. This article clariﬁes the distinction between combatant deaths, battle deaths, and war deaths. A new dataset of battle deaths in armed conﬂict is presented for the period 1946–2002. Global battle deaths have been decreasing over most of this period, mainly due to a decline in interstate and internationalised civil armed conﬂict. It is far more difficult to accurately assess the number of war deaths in conﬂicts both past and present. But there are compelling reasons to believe that there is a need for increased attention to non-battle causes of mortality, especially displacement and disease in conﬂict studies. Therefore, it is demographers, public health specialists, and epidemiologists who can best describe the true human cost of many recent armed conﬂicts and assess the actions necessary to reduce that toll.
This article was reprinted as Lacina, Bethany Ann; & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2006) Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths, in Brunborg, Helge; Ewa Tabeau; & Henrik Urdal, eds, The Demography of Armed Conflict. Berlin: Springer (145–165).