Organized violence 1989–2021 and drone warfare

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This article reports on trends in organized violence, building on new data by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP). The falling trend in fatalities stemming from organized violence in the world, observed between 2014 and 2019, was decisively reversed in 2021 as fatalities increased significantly. UCDP registered more than 119,100 deaths in organized violence in 2021, a 46% increase from the previous year. The increase was largely driven by escalating conflicts in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Yemen. Fatalities increased in all three categories of organized violence, despite a decrease in the number of active state-based conflicts, as well as the number of actors carrying out one-sided violence against civilians. UCDP recorded 54 state-based conflicts in 2021, a decrease by two compared to the previous year. Five of the conflicts were active at the intensity of war, the lowest number of wars since 2010. Violence in 2021 was thus concentrated to fewer but bloodier conflicts. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have become increasingly important features of modern conflicts, and the trend in their usage is discussed in the special feature section. UAV usage has since 2019 dispersed among a significant larger number of actors, even as the downscaling in the involvement of the United States in the war on terror has led to a decrease in drone-related fatalities.




Davies, S., Pettersson, T., & Öberg, M. (2022). Organized violence 1989–2021 and drone warfare. Journal of Peace Research, 59(4), 593–610.

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