With the 27th edition of the Conflict Barometer, the HIIK continues its annual series of reports covering political conflicts worldwide.

The global political conflict panorama in 2018 was marked by reverse trends. While the overall number of wars clearly decreased, the number of limited wars significantly increased. In Asia, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa, wars de-escalated, such as in Myanmar, Ukraine, DR Congo, and South Sudan. In contrast, three limited wars intensified to full-scale wars in the Middle East Northern Africa (MENA) region, seeing escalations on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, in Syria’s Afrin region, and in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK). In spite of these changes, many conflicts maintained their intensity, such as the wars in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Central African Republic, Somalia, and Nigeria, or, for instance, the limited wars in Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines. As in previous years, violent intrastate crises such as the opposition conflicts in Venezuela or Nicaragua continued to represent the most common conflict type and shaped the global conflict landscape. Moreover, non-violent or medium intensity interstate conflicts, for instance between the EU, USA, et al. and Russia or between India and Pakistan, have also been a central determinant of 2018. Finally, peace initiatives, for instance between Greece and North Macedonia, in Ethiopia, or in South Sudan, aimed to pave the way for more peaceful future relations.

In addition to our qualitative and quantitative conflict data, the Spotlight section introduced last year complements our core competencies with a focused analysis of issues related to political conflicts. The Spotlights in the Conflict Barometer 2018 present both region-focused and global perspectives. The former for example analyze social media as a recruitment strategy by Islamists in Indonesia and the transformative influence of peace initiatives in the Horn of Africa. The latter for instance demonstrate the importance of a gendered understanding of conflict, address vicious cycles between food insecurity and conflict, or elaborate how HIIK’s methodology tries to capture conflict dynamics.

The final version of the current Conflict Barometer 2018 can be downloaded below:

The Conflict Barometer is also available for download as an iOS app from the App Store.


The Board of Directors would like to thank all editors and heads of regions who contributed to this report for their outstanding efforts, especially during the final stages of editing. Without their commitment, a publication like this would be impossible. When time resources seem to be more limited than ever, voluntary efforts spent on a project like this become even more extraordinary.

The extended Board of Directors and the Editors in Chief
Marilena Geugjes, Marko Hermsen, Franziska Linke, Mayely Müller, Vincent Stüber, Emil Unrath

Heidelberg, February 2019