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Mapping conflicts across borders


Clionadh Raleigh outlines the groundbreaking Armed Conflict Location and event Data (ACLED) data set, which records violence spatially and temporally, and enables violent activity to be tracked by location (instead of by state), across borders over time.


ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data) is a conflict dataset that collects and codes information on internal political conflict.

By recording instances of violence spatially and temporally, ACLED can discern conflict patterns such as diffusion and contagion, and conflict cycles, clusters and frontlines. The coverage and coding system enable activity to be tracked by location (instead of state) and across borders over time. For example, conflicts in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo, or rebel activities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, can be analysed as part of a conflict system.

Instances of violent activity can be mapped against other cross-border conflict dynamics, such as refugee movements, and structural elements such as state capacity (roads, police stations, military bases) and environmental factors (terrain, natural resources), as well as political indicators, in order to provide a more integrated and contextualised picture of a conflict system.

Data are derived from media reports, humanitarian agencies and research publications. Many findings in the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security and development are based on ACLED data. The map below uses ACLED data to depict the shifting regional diffusion of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) activity over time.