Methodological Approach up to 2011


Conflicts are clashes of interest (differences of position) concerning national values (territory, secession, decolonization, autonomy, system/ideology, national power, regional predominance, international power, resources, other). These clashes are of a certain duration and scope, involving at least two parties (organized groups, states, groups of states, organizations of states) determined to pursue their interests and win their cases.

Conflict Intensity

The Conflict Barometer distinguishes (as does the conflict database, COSIMO/CONIS) between violent and non-violent conflicts. Due to the fact that – unlike other lists of conflicts – we also mention non-violent conflicts, we gain two important advantages:

1. All violent conflicts evolve from non-violent conflicts. Further, violent conflicts are not terminated through “sudden peace”. Instead, tensions are reduced gradually and and this process will have its ups and downs. The Conflict Barometer also monitors a conflict if it is no longer conducted with the use of violence, and checks whether the end of a violent dispute actually means the end of a conflict. The same applies to COSIMO/CONIS.

2. Restricting oneself to researching violent conflicts alone means losing sight of conflicts solved peacefully. Noting and analyzing cases in which crisis management succeeded in preventing outbreaks of violence, however, provides for a comprehensive and intelligent view of the world and its conflicts.

Table: Conflict Intensities

State of Violence Intensity Group Level of Intensity Name of Intensity Definition
non-violent low 1 Latent Conflict A positional difference over definable values of national meaning is considered to be a latent conflict if respective demands are ar ticulated by one of the parties and perceived by the other as such.
2 Manifest Conflict A manifest conflict includes the use of measures that are located in the preliminary stage to violent force. This includes for example verbal pressure, threatening explicitly with violence, or the imposition of economic sanctions.
violent medium 3 Crisis A crisis is a tense situation in which at least one of the par ties uses violent force in sporadic incidents.
high 4 Severe Crisis A conflict is considered to be a severe crisis if violent force is repeatedly used in an organized way.
5 War A war is a type of violent conflict in which violent force is used with a certain continuity in an organized and systematic way. The conflict parties exercise extensive measures, depending on the situation. The extent of destruction is massive and of long duration.