An armed conflict is a contested incompatibility which concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths.
The definition has been published in Appendix 2 in our articles in Journal of Peace Research 1993–2009, for instance, in Wallensteen, Peter & Margareta Sollenberg, 2001. ’Armed Conflict 1989–2000’, Journal of Peace Research 38(5): 629–644.
The separate elements of the definition are operationalised as follows:
(1) Use of armed force: use of arms in order to promote the parties’ general position in the conflict, resulting in deaths. Arms: any material means, e.g. manufactured weapons but also sticks, stones, fire, water, etc.
(2) 25 deaths: a minimum of 25 battle-related deaths per year and per incompatibility.
(3) Party: a government of a state or any opposition organisation or alliance of opposition organisations.
(3.1) Government: the party controlling the capital of the state.
(3.2) Opposition organisation: any non-governmental group of people having announced a name for their group and using armed force.
(4) State: a state is
(4.1) an internationally recognized sovereign government controlling a specified territory, or
(4.2) an internationally unrecognised government controlling a specified territory whose sovereignty is not disputed by another internationally recognised sovereign government previously controlling the same territory.
(5) Incompatibility concerning government and/or territory the incompatibility, as stated by the parties, must concern government and/or territory.
(5.1) Incompatibility: the stated generally incompatible positions.
(5.2) Incompatibility concerning government: incompatibility concerning type of political system, the replacement of the central government or the change of its composition.
(5.3) Incompatibility concerning territory: incompatibility concerning the status of a territory, e.g. the change of the state in control of a certain territory (interstate conflict), secession or autonomy (intrastate conflict).