With the 28th edition of the Conflict Barometer, the HIIK continues its annual series of reports covering political conflict dynamics and developments worldwide.

Despite a slight decrease compared to 2018, this year was marked by the continuation of most highly violent conflicts. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East and Maghreb (MENA) region, 15 conflicts were fought on war level. Of these, two intrastate conflicts in the DR Congo’s northeastern provinces, the drug trafficking conflict in Brazil, as well as the conflict spurred by Islamist groups in the Sahel zone escalated to full-scale wars. In total, 23 limited wars were observed worldwide. Six violent crises in Sudan, Mozambique, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Iraq escalated to limited wars. Meanwhile, the wars between farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria, militias and the government of the DR Congo, as well as the inner-opposition conflict in Syria de-escalated to limited wars. The global trend towards an increase of non-violent conflicts continued in 2019. Overall, 162 of the 358 total observed conflicts played out on a non-violent level. Furthermore, international media coverage particularly shed light on this year’s salient social and anti-government protests, notably in Chile, Hong Kong, and Iraq.

For the third consecutive year, the Spotlight section complements our descriptive approach to conflict dynamics with an emphasis on their internal and external influences. The Spotlights, inter alia, analyze the impact of progressive militarization of police forces on France’s Gillet Jaunes protests, or the consequences of international sanctions for Myanmar’s minority policies

This year also marks our institute’s 30th anniversary. In 1991, the HIIK evolved from a research project on conflict simulation, which has been financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Gesellschaft fur Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung (GMD) at Heidelberg University since 1988. For the last three decades, the continuous professionalization of systematic data collection and the development of a distinctive methodological approach has allowed researchers, policymakers, and the public to engage with conflicts on a five-level intensity scale, ranging from disputes to violent crises and wars. We are thrilled that our institute has since provided and will continue to provide a framework for research on political conflicts worldwide, and that it contributes to a better understanding of global conflict developments and dynamics.

The Conflict Barometer 2019 can be downloaded here:

The Board of Directors would like to thank all those who contributed to this report for their outstanding efforts, especially during the final stages of editing. It is your commitment that makes a publication like this possible, and enables the institute to grow.

The Board of Directors,
Marit Braunschweig, Anna Feiereisen, Ronja Gottschling, Michael Hebeisen, Ruben Ilyas, Mayely Müller

Heidelberg, March 2020