A comprehensive list of organizations with public databases that track militarism, the arms trade, and violent conflict. Use these to support research, advocacy or any initiative for a demilitarized world.
by Taylor O’Connor | 25 August 2023
“The arms race can kill, though the weapons themselves may never be used…by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.” – Vatican statement to the U.N., 1976
I follow a lot of peacebuilding groups and peace activist networks, both on social media, and also in general. I like to see what reports they are publishing, what advocacy campaigns they are coordinating, and generally, I like to keep connected on the activities of any major movement for peace. And any good peacebuilding effort should consider approaches to address militarism.
Peacebuilding groups for example, always use the Global Peace Index for advocacy efforts. Peace activist networks, however, use the SIPRI Yearbook: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. And Humanitarian organizations use the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). All examples are listed below. And I always wonder why this is because in my personal and professional experience I’ve encountered tons of databases on militarism, the arms trade, and violent conflict.
Working in silos isn’t good for anybody my people!
So I decided to do a little mapping of organizations with databases that track militarism, the arms trade and violent conflict. I started with 12 organizations which I thought was a lot, but then when I started to look into it further I mapped 37 organizations, many that host multiple public databases.
I hope it can be of use for any peacebuilding, peace activist, or other involved in efforts to build a more peaceful world. Having access to this data alone I hope can help you in your advocacy, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, or other activities. So have a look through these. There is a lot in here. I tried to organize it in a simple way to help you find whatever data you are looking for, or that might be interesting for your peace efforts. Find something specific, use it in your peace efforts, and share it with others!
This blog post includes a lot of organizations with databases tracking many aspects of militarism, the arms trade and violent conflict. But it doesn’t include everything!
It is not a list of organizations mobilizing against militarism, the arms trade, etc. This would be a much longer list, which I will make later in another post.
I have focused on organizations that have public databases in the English language. Some also have reports in other languages, but if they don’t have English language reports they are not included.
Many also publish reports and other resources. If they only publish periodic random reports, but don’t have databases or reports tracking and publishing regularly about specific data they are not included.
It includes databases tracking production, trade and violence associated with many types of weaponry, from small guns to tanks and helicopters. I have not included organizations or databases focused on general human rights abuses, injustices not directly related to violent conflict, nonviolent conflict, etc.
Below, I have provided a list of 37 organizations with databases on some aspect of militarism, the arms trade and/or violent conflict. They are organized into the following 6 categories to help you find what you are looking for:
- Key databases focused primarily on militarism and the arms trade
- Databases focused primarily on violent conflict
- Databases maintained by the US government and on US militarism
- Databases on disarmament and resistance to militarism
- Databases with very specific data associated with militarism, the arms trade and violent conflict
- Resources for civilians affected by violent conflict
I have written a brief profile of each organization with an overview of what types of reports and databases each has. Some are projects of large organizations and others are independent organizations solely dedicated in collection and presentation of specific data.
Some of the reports and databases are hard to find on website, so I have also included links to specific publications, or pages where databases and reports are presented.
These organizations each have great databases tracking many elements of militarism and the arms trade. I have listed them first because they are the most comprehensive on these topics. Some also track elements of violent conflict, but the main focus is militarism and the arms trade.
Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security | by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
Tagline – The independent resource on global security.
Org profile: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is a research institute that focuses on global peace and security research. They publish the most comprehensive data tracking many aspects of militarism and the arms trade.
Databases and publications: Every year SIPRI publishes the SIPRI Yearbook: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. The data presented covers a range of topics including trends in armed conflict, peace operations, private military companies, military expenditure, arms production, arms transfers, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, arms control/regulations, and weapons in space. The yearbook is for sale, but they do provide a great detailed summary of their findings for free download in more than ten languages. They also have public databases on arms transfers, arms control, arms manufacturers, multilateral peace operations, global military expenditure, arms embargos, arms exports, national budgets, and the financial value of the global arms trade. You can also freely access their databases directly by clicking HERE.
UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA)
Tagline – Transparency in the global reported arms trade.
Org profile: The purpose of the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) is to promote transparency in the global arms trade. They report to have captured over 90% of the global arms trade available in their public database.
Databases and publications: Each country on earth is requested by UNROCA to provide yearly reports of all exports and imports of across 7 categories of major conventional arms (tanks, helicopters, aircraft, warships, etc.), 6 categories of small arms, and 7 categories of light weapons (that’s 20 different types of weapons!). All this data is produced in one easily searchable database, by country. It is easy to see the overall imports and exports of weapons across each of the 20 cateogories by each counry, then below is a table by each country so you can see imports and exports to your selected country by a list of all countries in the world.
The crazy thing is that because they get data from all countries, there is a built-in verification mechanism. Numbers are presented together: on the left side you see the numbers the country reported and on the right you see the numbers reported by other countries. For example here, I have checked my own country the USA. They have reported lots of exports (surely not all!), but they have reported zero imports across all categories of small arms and light weapons. But tons of other countries have reported sale of these weapons to the US, in the tens of millions across numerous categories. UNROCA begun collecting data in 2006 and provide all data since then, year by year.
Databases on global firearms holdings, global violent deaths (GVD), small arms trade transparency, and unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) | by Small Arms Survey
Tagline – We strengthen the capacity of governments and practitioners to reduce illicit arms flows and armed violence through three mutually reinforcing activities: the generation of policy-relevant knowledge, the development of authoritative resources and tools, and the provision of training and other services.
Org profile: The Small Arms Survey is an independent research project and resource center based in Switzerland that is dedicated to the study of small arms and armed violence. It conducts comprehensive research, collects data, and provides analysis on various aspects of small arms proliferation, illicit trafficking, and their impact on peace and security.
Databases and publications: You can access their databases on global firearms holdings, global violent deaths (GVD), small arms trade transparency, and unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS). Each includes an interactive global map to browse data.
They also publish regular reports analyzing all aspects of small arms trade and violence, and have open access to their databases plus interactive maps on their website. You can search a huge resource library of their resources by keyword, topic, language (20+ languages), and country. At time of writing there are nearly 600 resources available in their database.
Global Weapons Tracking Portal | by Scrap Weapons
Tagline – We propose timetables and a draft treaty for consideration at the United Nations General Assembly, which takes place in September every year.
Org profile: The Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP Weapons) works towards achieving universal control of all weapons. The website shares information and resources related to tracking global weapons trade and stockpiles. They propose timetables and a draft treaty to be considered at the United Nations General Assembly in September each year. They also encourage individuals to show support by sending a letter to their government, and offer opportunities for students to get involved by emailing them.
Databases and publications: SCRAP Weapon’s Global Weapons Tracking Portal provides an open-source database that monitors global armaments and weapon uses, interactive maps on the arms trade and weapons stockpiles, and tracking tools that monitor the location of ships and planes (i.e. involved in arms trade), and satellites (i.e. surveillance and militarization of space) from around the world. Their yearly proposal to the UN for a general and complete global disarmament can be found HERE. They also provide an links for an extensive list of recommended readings, teaching resources, and treaties and frameworks on their resources page.
Databases of arms companies, arms fairs and EU arms exports | by the Campaign Against Arms Trade
Tagline – We work to end the international arms trade.
Org profile: Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is a UK-based organization aimed at stopping the international arms trade. The organization provides resources and support to groups actively working towards ending arms trade and advocates for changes at the legislative level, both in the UK, across Europe, and globally. They provide a lot of data about weapons manufacturing and arms trade from the UK and European Union (EU) countries.
Databases and publications: Their website itself produces a great amount of reader-friendly data on issues associated with the arms trade and alternatives to the arms trade. You can also pull up profiles on any country in the world and access interactive maps to find the locations of arms companies and arms fairs worldwide. Check them out and see what arms companies have offices or production facilities near you, or see if there are any arms fairs near you (to protest of course!). All this information is useful because there are so many examples of local activist groups getting arms companies out of their cities and towns. They have other interactive databases where you can search for data on EU military exports, UK export licenses and an interesting one that tracks political corruption and the arms industry, specifically exploring links between the UK government and arms companies.
Don’t Bank on the Bomb: on the financing of Nuclear Weapons Producers | by PAX
Tagline – We work to protect civilians against acts of war, to end armed violence and to build inclusive peace.
Org profile: This is a major database with reports published by PAX since 2013. Don’t Bank on the Bomb is the only regularly published source of information on the private companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons and their financiers.
Databases and publications: On the Don’t Bank on the Bomb website you can find regular reports publishing data on the production of nuclear weapons and institutions financing and otherwise supporting nuclear weapons research, production, and stockpiling, totaling at least $280 billion and continuing for decades. They include institutions that invest and finance nuclearization and also those who divest. You can also access profiles of individual nuclear weapons producers on the website.
iTrace Global Weapon Reporting System | by Conflict Armament Research
Tagline – We generate unique evidence on weapon supplies into armed conflicts in order to inform and support effective weapon management and control.
Org profile: Conflict Armament Research (CAR) specializes in identifying and tracking conventional weapons and ammunition in present-day armed conflicts. Their investigation teams work on the ground in active armed conflicts. The teams document weapons at the point of use and track their sources back through the chains of supply. Weapons are tracked in a number of ways including weapons recovered by state security forces, surrendered at the cessation of hostilities, cached, or held by insurgent forces. Their focus is to address illicit weapon flows and to mitigate the supply of conventional arms to unauthorised users, including insurgent and terrorist forces.
Databases and publications: The iTrace Global Weapon Reporting System is an interactive portal tracking transfers of diverted conventional weapons, ammunition, and related materiel. CAR also has a page guidebooks, reports, dispatches and other publications associated with illicit weapons.
Arms control and non-proliferation resource database | by the Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation
Tagline – We seek to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, halt the spread of nuclear weapons, and minimize the risk of war by educating the public and policy makers.
Org profile: The Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation conducts research, analysis, and advocacy to promote arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation policies. What makes them unique is that they focus on producing easy to understand content for the general public to understand armament and the weapons industry.
Databases and publications: They produce tons of fact sheets and infographics freely available to the public. You can find these on topics like pentagon spending, nuclear weapons spending, biological and chemical weapons, treaties associated with non-proliferation, weapon specific info, and data on nuclear and weapons arsenals of specific countries. Access all resources organized by theme by clicking HERE.
EU Arms Exports Database and Armed Banking Database | by the Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau (Research and Action for Peace and Disarmament)
Tagline – We aim to strengthen the culture of peace and the construction of a disarmed society, making people aware of the negative effects of arms and militarism.
Org profile: The Center Delàs is a Spanish research center focused on disarmament, peace, and security issues in Spain and all around the world. They produce studies and analyses on arms trade and military spending, and advocate for disarmament. Their website and resources are in English, Spanish and Catalan.
Databases and publications: On their website you can get access to a bunch of databases, organized by militarism and the arms trade in Spain, and internationally. International databases include a database of EU Arms Exports by country, and an Armed Banking Database that include more than 3000 banks, large insurance companies, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and public institutions that finance the weapons manufacturing companies.
For a project about border militarization, they have interactive maps of walls built in Europe and around the world since 1968, and on the military industry in Spain.
They also publish tons of reports covering specific topics associated with the arms trade, lethal weapons, nuclear weapons, military expenditure, the financing of arms, militarization of the European Union (EU), gender and military culture, border militarization, novel weapons, and other topics. Great stuff in here that deserves wider exposure. Check out their publications by clicking HERE.
These organizations each have great databases tracking many elements of violent conflict, including incidence of violence and casualties associated with different types of weapons and violence. Some also track elements of militarism and the arms trade, but the main focus is violent conflict.
Data, charts and reports on armed conflict | by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project
Tagline – We provide the highest quality and most widely used real-time data and analysis on political violence and protest around the world.
Org profile: The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) produces data and analysis on political violence and protest events from around the world. Their team of experts collects and analyzes real-time data to provide context and history to events that impact human security.
Databases and publications: The ACLED website provides a huge amount of disaggregated data on armed conflict from around the world. ACLED collects information on the dates, actors, locations, fatalities, and types of all reported political violence and protest events around the world. All data, analysis reports, and statements are open for free use by the public. Their website also has a Data Export Tool to help you identify and export datasets. They also have an interactive platform called the Early Warning & Forecasting Hub that anyone can use to help identify possible escalations in violence.
ACLED also provides regular presentation of charts and analysis reports about armed conflict, particularly when there has been escalations of violence in any area. They have over 1000 reports published since 2013, and you can search reports by country and date. Recent reports cover topics such as election violence, demonstrations, and domestic rebellion. Their infographics and maps are quite good.
Database on organized violence and civil war | The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research of Uppsala University
Tagline – We are the world’s main provider of data on organized violence and the oldest ongoing data collection project for civil war.
Org profile: The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University hosts the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), which has been collecting data on organized violence and civil war for nearly 40 years. They pride themselves in their classification of types of violence and contributions to the field of peace and conflict studies.
Databases and publications: UCDP provides an interactive platform to view tracking of violent incidents around the globe. You can click to view data on specific countries and data on violence is organized into three categories: state-based violence, non-state violence, and one-sided violence. Also you can download individual datasets directly, or download specific published charts, graphs and maps.
Explosive Violence Monitor and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Database | Action on Armed Violence (AOAV)
Tagline – We record, investigate and disseminate evidence of armed violence against civilians worldwide, to ensure the respect and protection of their rights and to end armed violence against civilians in conflict.
Org Databases and publications: Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) monitors and reports on explosive violence worldwide. Their website provides updates on incidents of explosive violence, conflict briefings, and analysis of various armed conflicts, including the ongoing war in Ukraine. They also focus on issues such as the impact of explosive violence on civilians, corruption within the military, and the marketing tactics of arms manufacturers their data sources include English-language media reports to capture information on who has been killed and injured by incidents of explosive violence.
Databases and publications: Started in 2010, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor presents monthly and yearly charts and analysis on incidents of explosive violence around the world. Data is plugged into their Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Database which contains over 22,000 explosive violence incidents reported from 119 countries. Between late 2010 and the present day, such violence has caused over 300,000 casualties. These databases track civilian and combatant casualties, the type of explosive weapon used, the means of deployment, the user of the weapon, and the location of the incident.
They also conduct research and publish tons of informative reports and educational resources about manufactured explosive weapons and improvised explosives (IEDs). They also publish some articles and do advocacy surrounding gun violence, knife violence, and militarism, these particularly centered around the UK context.
Conflict Catalogue | by Dr. Pete Becker, professor at Sam Nunn School of International Affairs Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
Tagline – n/a
Org profile: Dr. Pete Becker is a professor of International affairs at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). One of his research projects was creating a Taxonomy of Violent Conflicts, and part that project he researched casualties of historic wars and violent conflicts to create a database of conflict he called the Conflict Catalogue.
Databases: Becker’s Conflict Catalogue can be downloaded from a page he has on the Georgia Tech website. It is made up of two separate excel documents. The first is a database of over 3700 wars and violent conflicts from the year 1400 to 2000 (prior to the ‘Global War on Terror’. It tracks the number of parties to the conflict, the official start and end date of the conflict, and finally it includes the number of military and civilian fatalaties (wherever reliable data sources were available). The second is a database of more than 1100 European wars and violent conflicts in recorded history from the year 900 – 1400. I suppose there are a number of challenges to get data from non-European wars for a single researcher, so it is focused on Europe. This only includes start and end year, and overall fatalities (wherever data was available).
Global Peace Index | by the Institute for Economics and Peace
Tagline – We aim to create a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about peace.
Org profile: The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of the social and economic factors that contribute to peace. They have well funded marketing team and their reports are widely known across the international aid sector.
Databases and publications: IEP produces a number of reports that measure and rank levels of peacefulness in countries around the world, namely the Global Peace Index and the Positive Peace Index, among others. The Global Peace Index measures 23 criteria, mostly associated with incidents of violence. There are some critical flaws in the criteria underlying what is considered ‘peace’ in the Global Peace Index, however. The data is great, but in my opinion the index measures safety more than peace. Access to all their reports can be found HERE. But before you use the Global Peace Index or any resources by IEP, you should read this article on what the Global Peace Index does and does not measure.
War and Peace Data and Charts | on Our World in Data
Tagline – Research and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems.
Org profile: Our World in Data is a website that provides a wide range of data and research on a variety of global topics, including COVID-19, sustainable development goals, personal experiences, food prices, and homicides. It is not a website dedicated to war or militarism, but does monitor progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in so doing it produces a broad range of interactive charts and graphs on topics associated with war and peace.
Databases and publications: Data is drawn from a range of sources (many included in this blog post) to produce a range of interactive charts on ‘war and peace’, including numerous charts mapping deaths associated with a range of types of conflict, on conflicts themselves, and on peacekeeping operations. You can review 21 charts in this category, view associated data tables, review sources of information, and download all. On the same page they also present various charts analyzing war and peace since 1945. Many charts produced show decline in conflict-related death over time.
PRIO Datasets on violent conflict | by Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO)
Tagline – We conduct research on the conditions for peaceful relations between states, groups and people.
Org profile: The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) conducts research on a range of topics related to armed conflict, including conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, and human security. The institute produces research that can inform policy and contribute to the development of peaceful solutions to conflict.
Databases and publications: PRIO has been around since 1964 and has a huge array of publicly available datasets, research reports, res academic publications, and other resources all with open access. At time of writing they have 32 downloadable datasets, most are just raw data in zip files. Not all are specific to violent conflict, but many are, including the battledeaths dataset, the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) Dataset, the Natural Resource Conflict dataset, the Conflict Site Dataset, the Water-Related Intrastate Conflict and Cooperation (WARICC) dataset, the Location of Armed Conflict Onset Dataset (LACOD) dataset, the Armed Conflict dataset, and the Onset and Duration of Intrastate Conflict, among others. Have a search in their publications database for any topic of interest and you are sure to find something.
War and Militarism Data Sets | the Correlates of War Project
Tagline – We facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations.
Org profile: Founded in 1963, the Correlates of War (COW) project is dedicated to collecting, disseminating, and utilizing accurate and reliable quantitative data in the field of international relations. Their key principles include adhering to scientific standards of replication, data reliability, documentation, and review, as well as ensuring transparency in data collection procedures. Their website serves as a centralized hub for data distribution, error reporting, user interaction, and community contribution to the project’s ongoing development.
Databases and publications: The website offers various data sets related to global conflict and war. It is all raw data for download, mostly useful for researchers. There are a bunch of downloadable datasets, including the Militarized Interstate Dispute Locations, the Formal Alliances dataset, and the Defense Cooperation Agreement Dataset, among others. One unique part of these databases, is that since it is managed by university researchers and has been around since the 1960s, they have global data beginning from the early 1800s. Databases are regularly updated.
This section includes both organizations focused on tracking US militarism and databases operated by the US government. The United States deserves its own section here, noting that by the US government’s own reporting about 79% of world arms trade is supplied by the United States, not including arms within the United States and used by the US military. US government keeps detailed public records, and its sources provide detailed reporting on many aspects of US militarism and foreign interventionism.
Tracking Militarism in US Government Spending | by the National Priorities Project
Tagline – We inspire individuals and movements to take action so our federal resources (i.e. USA) prioritize peace, shared prosperity, and economic security for all.
Org profile: The National Priorities Project provides data and analysis on how the federal government spends its money. The project highlights how much of US taxpayer money is wasted on war and militarism (62% of all government spending as noted in their recent report), and advocating for government spending be used on social services that promote human needs.
Databases and publications: The National Priorities Project regularly publishes reports and infographics with analysis of US tax spending, particularly around tax season (April and May) and when the government announces budgets each year. Reports can be found HERE.
A Visual Database of USA’s Military Empire | by World BEYOND War
Tagline – A global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.
Org profile: World BEYOND War is a key player in the movement for the abolition of war. They publish a lot of material about all kinds of topics associated with war and militarism, and they support a global network taking nonviolent action for the abolition of war.
Databases and publications: On their website they host an interactive map of more than 900 US military bases and military instillations all over the world. You can click on any of these to get an aerial photo, estimate of how many military personnel are there, total land in acres, date established, sources for the information, and a brief description of what the base/installation is used for. They also include links to news articles (from local and international sources) about the harmful environmental and human toll of these bases, including articles like environmental destruction, forced evictions of local residents, rape cases involving US soldiers, political strife associated with US military presence, protests against said installations, and much more.
World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers | by the US Department of State
Tagline – To protect and promote U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values and shape an international environment in which all Americans can thrive.
Org profile: The US Department of State began collecting and publishing regular data on world military expenditures and arms transfers in the 1960s, and makes these regular reports available the public on their website. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 repealed a 1994 statutory provision that required the Department of State to publish this data every year. As a result, we have yearly reports published until the end of 2021, and the State Department will no longer publish these reports.
Databases and publications: “World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers” (WMEAT) series of reports provide detailed data on global annual military expenditures, arms transfers, armed forces, and other associated data. The aim is to provide the arms control and international security community with useful, comprehensive, and accurate data, accompanied by analyses and highlights. This is great data!
The summary findings of their final 2021 report note a some crazy points on US militarism, particularly since it is the US government publishing the findings. Some include that “about 79% of world arms trade by value appears to have been supplied by the United States, about 10% by the European Union, about 5% by Russia, and less than 2% by China.” Another is that the average military expenditure of countries around the world is between “1.9% and 2.4%” across an 11 year period, while the US itself on average spends between 62% of its government spending on military purposes (as reported by National Priorities Project).
Security Sector Assistance, Arms Sales and Foreign Military Training Databases | by the Center for International Policy (formerly Security Assistance Monitor)
Tagline – We work to make a peaceful, just, and sustainable world the central pursuit of U.S. foreign policy by promoting greater cooperation, transparency, and governmental accountability.
Org profile: The Center for International Policy (CIP) is a progressive think tank that conducts research, public education and advocacy on U.S. foreign policy. They work to inform the US public and decision makers on policies to make the world more peaceful, just, and sustainable. They were founded by peace activists in the 1970s and work to build an evidence-based case for why and how the United States must redefine the concept of national security in the 21st century. Their reports expose corruption, inequality, and the various forms of discrimination in US foreign policy.
Databases and publications: On their website they maintain 3 databases: the Security Sector Assistance Database (SSA), the Arms Sales database, and the Foreign Military Training (FMTR) database. The SSA database (1996 – present) tracks over 65 US government foreign aid initiatives that build, train, advise, assist, and even accompany foreign security forces and institutions. You can search by country and see the dollar amount spent by the US each year on ‘foreign security assistance’. The Arms Sales database (2001 – present) is a table of all official sales of defense articles or services, either by the U.S. government or an American commercial vendor to a foreign client. The FMTR database (1999 – present) tracks the number and type of foreign military trainings conducted each year and number of trainees that participated country by country. All databased are clickable to find see a breakdown of what funds were used for in each country, year by year. There is also an interactive map where you can engage with this data.
All of this data was formerly part of a project called the Security Assistance Monitor and at the time of writing was housed on the Security Assistance Monitor, whose website notes that all databases will be transferred to the website of The Center for International Policy (CIP).
Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad (1798 – present) and other reports at the National Security Reports database | at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of (US) Congress
Tagline – We are the largest library in the world, the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.
Org profile: The Library of Congress (i.e. the US Congress) is a public database of official US government documents and resources, self proclaimed as the largest library in the world. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a research division of the US Congress which produces regular reports on all kinds of topics to be used by policymakers, civil servants, and the general public.
Databases and publications: CRS conducts research to provide regular reports on topics of national security for the US government and publishes them on a database on their website. This National Security Reports database has hundreds of reports that are assessable to the general public.
There is a lot in there, and you can search for yourself, but I found this report titled Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad of particular interest. It is a regularly updated report (currently 55 pages) based on official presidential reports tracking hundreds of instances of ‘use of force’ by all branches of the US military all over the world since 1798.
The rationale for authorized uses of force are particularly insane. Most of the rationale provided describe the protection of US interests abroad (particularly in many contexts where US military was occupying foreign lands), or the ‘restoring/maintaining of order.’ Other rationales include: to establish a stable government, to make political negotiations easier, to remind the authorities (of specific country) of the power of the United States, a show of force, punishment of wrongdoing, and to clean out Communist sanctuaries. There are a lot of rationales associated casually describing gross acts of violence used to punish locals opposed to US military occupation. Here is one: “A U.S. marine expedition burned an indigenous village in retaliation.” And another: “Naval forces bombarded and burned (specific town) to avenge an insult to the American Minister”.
Not included in the list are undeclared wars, political coups, covert operations, foreign military assistance, and other non-official interventions. Also, excluded from the list are “use of U.S. military units in the exploration, settlement, and pacification of the western part of the United States,” as described in the document.
Database of Military Weapons, Vehicles and Equipment Transferred to Law Enforcement Departments in the USA | by the Defense Logistics Agency of the US Government
Tagline – To deliver readiness and lethality to the Warfighter always and support our nation through quality, proactive global logistics.
Org profile: The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is the a department of the US government that coordinates combat logistics. They have a staff of about 25,000 employees divided into multiple supply chains that support the transport of military equipment and supplies across all branches of the US military. As a US government agency, they are required to provide detailed reports of weapons, equipment and supplies transfers.
Databases and publications: The Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program of the DLA facilitates the transfer of excess Department of Defense property to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies within the United States and its territories. Through the DoD’s 1033 program, over 6 billion dollars in military weapons and equipment has been transferred to police departments all over the US. On the LESO website there is a downloadable link to a regularly updated excel database of all arms transfers to local law enforcement agencies all over the US. 6 billion dollars of weapons and equipment is a lot and transfers are happening all the time since the 1990s, so this database is massive. Each state has a tab, and underneath is are all law enforcement agencies in the state that have received military weapons and equipment are found in here, with one row dedicated to each transfer made.
Records database from all branches if the US military | in the National Archives (of the United States Government)
Tagline – We drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy (USA) through equitable public access to high-value government records.
Org profile: The main role of the National Archives is to preserve US government records, and to provide them for government and public use. It maintains records from a range of departments of the US government, including all branches of the US military .
Databases and publications: The Military Records section of the National Archives hosts records from all branches of the US military, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Records are available from the US Revolutionary War and American Independence to present day. Users can explore records, articles, and resources on various military topics, including historical military records, the Cold War, and public intelligence records. They include historic photos, military communications and reports from specific battles, scans of official documents, and much more.
Arms Sales Risk Index | by Cato Institute
Tagline – We originate, disseminate, and advance solutions based on the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.
Org profile: The Cato Institute is a Washington D.C. based public policy research organization dedicated to promoting individual liberty, free markets, and peace. They are not a peacebuilding or peace activist organization, but a group that advises US policy makers, priding itself on injecting libertarian perspective into mainstream policy debates.
Databases and publications: The Cato Institute’s Arms Sales Risk Index evaluates the risks associated with arms sales and assists policymakers in making informed decisions about which countries they sell US weapons to. They have developed their own metric for assessing ‘risk’ that US weapons will be used in ways that ‘lead to negative outcomes’. These four risk factors include a country’s level of corruption, its level of instability, its treatment of its people, and the level of conflict, both internal and external, in which it is engaged. They provide a table citing arms sales in millions of US dollars (2009-2021), noting that it usually takes a few years for arms to be delivered and actively used in each country after the date of sale, then provides a yearly ‘risk score’ to each country so the reader can see how many millions of dollars in weapons have been transferred to each country, and the level of risk assigned. Risk numbers are very subjective in some cases, particularly given that this institution is in favor of US militarism and sale of weapons, just not for some countries.
There are a few databases I have discovered tracking aspects of disarmament and resistance to militarism. UN agencies have the most comprehensive databases that I’ve found to date.
Disarmament Resolutions and Decisions Database and Disarmament Treaties Database | by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)
Tagline – We support multilateral efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Org profile: Established in 1998, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) is the UN agency primarily responsible for global disarmament and arms control. Their website organizes all data on UN disarmament resolutions and global diarmament treaties, and they publish a lot of research and reports on disarmament.
Databases: UNODA hosts two great comprehensive databases, one where you can find any UN or internationally recongnized resolution or decision, and the other is a search of disarmament treaties. You can search the Disarmament Resolutions and Decisions Database by type of weaponry and download any associated resolution. At time there are 28 multilateral Arms Regulation and Disarmament Agreements listed in UNODA’s Disarmament Treaties Database. You can search by treaty to see a list that indicates which countries are signatories to it and which aren’t, or you can search by country to see a list of treaties they are signatories to. They also have a bunch of research reports, fact sheets, and other educational materials free for download on their publications page.
Artificial Intelligence Policy Portal, Cybersecurity Policy Portal, and Space Security Policy Portal | by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
Tagline – We conduct independent research on disarmament and issues relating to international security to support UN Member States, the United Nations, the disarmament policy community and other stakeholders in identifying and advancing ideas and practical actions that contribute to a sustainable and peaceful world.
Org profile: The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is a global policy institute focused on weapons of mass destruction, security and technology, conventional arms control, gender and disarmament, and space security. UNIDIR generates knowledge, promotes dialogue, and takes action on disarmament and security issues. Their work in Geneva assists the international community in developing practical and innovative ideas to address critical security problems through disarmament, including arms control, non-proliferation, prohibitions, restrictions, confidence-building measures, and elimination of weapons.
Databases and publications: UNIDIR has a huge database of publications on disarmament research and reports searchable by topics like conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear risk reduction, space, and many other topics. Also, you can enter the Artificial Intelligence Policy Portal, the Cybersecurity Policy Portal, and the Space Security Policy Portal to access their databases with searchable world maps where you can access country profiles to read about policy and legislation associated with these topics.
The Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor | by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Tagline –We are a broad, inclusive campaign, focused on mobilizing civil society around the world to support the specific objective of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons.
Org profile: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global movement dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons and preventing their catastrophic humanitarian consequences. ICAN supports and mobilizes a coalition of organizations from around the world for advocacy campaigns, and to support them they publish tons of briefing papers, reports, research studies, and campaign tools on their website freely available to support any effort for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Databases and publications: On the ICAN website you can find a searchable database of signatories to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. You can search by country name or on an interactive map to access country profiles where you can get information about if the country is a signatory to the treaty, background information about the signing process or associated negotiations, and a link to the country’s profile on the Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor. The Ban Monitor is a research program that tracks compliance with the treaty for signatory countries. There you can find more information about compliance for any country you choose.
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Database | by War Resisters International (WIR)
Tagline – We are a network of organizations, groups and individuals working for a world without war. War is a crime against humanity. We are determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.
Org profile: War Resisters’ International (WRI) is an international network of organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting nonviolence and resisting war and militarism. It is a platform for peace activists, conscientious objectors, and advocates for demilitarization. WRI produces resources and coordinates advocacy campaigns to challenge militarism.
Databases and publications: The main database they provide is called the world survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service. It is a database of laws associated with military conscription and conscientious objection from every country in the world, searchable by country. It is a great resource for anyone in the world who wants to resist military conscription in their country. Each country profile has information about conscription laws in the country, about legal provisions for or against conscientious objection, about soldier desertion, and any relevant statistics, all with sources cited. They also track cases of individuals challenging military conscription in each country where relevant and provide links to news stories.
They also have free resource called A Conscientious Objector’s Guide to the International Human Rights System. Basically, they are a comprehensive resource on how to connect with support in international human rights mechanisms for anyone in the world that wants to resist military conscription.
5. Databases with very specific data associated with militarism, the arms trade and violent conflict
Some organizations focus in on very specific aspects of militarism, the arms trade and violent conflict. Often these are datasets not included in larger databases. Some of these are very unique and innovative. There are also a few examples of country or region-specific data collection and advocacy. These I think can be great inspiration for smaller organizations looking to make a more targeted impact on a specific issue.
Armed Drones Database | Drone Wars UK
Tagline – We investigate and challenge the development and use of armed drones and other new lethal military technology.
Org profile: Drone Wars UK conducts research, publishes resources, and coordinates advocacy efforts to ban drones and other lethal military technology in warfare. Their website has a wealth of resources on armed drones, killer robot technology, space militarization, and the future of wars (associated with the use of new and developing technologies).
Databases and publications: On the Drone Wars UK website you can find a database of which countries have armed drones and where they came from. In reviewing their database it is interesting to see that at present only few countries have the technology to produce armed drones, but those that do sell or provide drones for many other countries. The database provides tonos of information about which armed drones specifically each country has, where they were produced, when and where they were used (in military operations). A few countries only recently developed the technology to produce armed drones, and we can expect that the sale and use of armed drones will only increase in an atmosphere with no controls on these weapons. The website also has a huge database of reports, documents and articles about all aspects of armed drones that is very well organized by category. Their own research reports are available on their publications page.
Global Internal Displacement Database (GIDD) | Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC)
Tagline – We provide high-quality data, analysis and expertise on internal displacement with the aim of informing policy and operational decisions that can reduce the risk of future displacement and improve the lives of internally displaced people (IDP) worldwide.
Org profile: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the world’s leading source of data and analysis on internal displacement.
Databases and publications: Published yearly, IDMC’s Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) is the world’s leading source of data and analysis on internal displacement. All their data is available on a searchable database called the Global Internal Displacement Database (GIDD). Their interactive database has very well organized data, presented with charts and infographics. You can search by country, timeframe (of when people were displaced), number of people displaced and/or displacement movements, and you can organize displacement data by cause of displacement (natural disaster or violent conflict). You can also download the dataset. Country profiles can also be accessed on a searchable world map. They also have an Internal Displacement Updates Database that tracks preliminary estimates of new displacement events reported in the last 180 days. It is also searchable via an interactive world map. New data is also used to update the GIDD.
Rulers, Elections, and Irregular Governance (REIGN) and Terrorist & Insurgent Organization Social Services (TIOS) Datasets | by One Earth Future
Tagline – We prevent armed conflict and promote stability through creative and inclusive problem-solving.
Org profile: One Earth Future is an organization that serves as an incubator for innovative peacebuilding programs. They focus on evidence-informed solutions, utilizing empirical data to create and scale programs for sustained peace, conflict resolution, and risk reduction.
Databases and publications: One Earth Future hosts three innovative databases on their website. The Rulers, Elections, and Irregular Governance (REIGN) Dataset routinely collects data about current actions from more than 2,300 individual leaders in 201 different countries to describe political conditions in each country every month. The Terrorist & Insurgent Organization Social Services (TIOS) Dataset tracks the provision of goods and services to local populations from over 400 terrorist and insurgent organizations. The key purpose of this is both that data has previously not been available about the activities of non-state armed actors, and that the provision of goods and services is often what these actors use to demonstrate legitimacy in local populations.
Reporting on Arms Manufacture and Trade from Nordic Countries | SaferGlobe
Tagline – We build lasting peace and security.
Org profile: Safer Globe is a Finland-based think-tank, specialized in security issues and conflict research. One of their big initiatives is tracking weapons sales from Finnish companies to other countries. They publish their reports and data in English and Finnish, and they are engaged in advocacy efforts to demilitarize Finland. I think this is a great example of a local demilitarization think tank that can have impact at the country level. Perhaps it can be a model and inspiration for other projects like it in different countries.
Databases and publications: They publish reports periodically, principally on the arms industry of Finland and other Nordic countries. Publications, found HERE, are available in English and Finnish. They also have a very nice interactive world map where you can see the past twenty years of which countries imported Finnish weaponry (organized by civilian arms and military material).
Data on Civilian Casualties in the War in Iraq | Iraq Body Count
Tagline – The public record of violent deaths following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Org profile: Launched in response to the 2003 military intervention in Iraq, Iraq Body Count tracks and documents civilian casualties in Iraq. They seek to provide transparent and accurate data on the human cost of the Iraq conflict. They publish periodic analytical article that give voice to voiceless victims of this war.
Databases and publications: In line with their main purpose, the website hosts a detailed public database of civilian deaths caused both by US-led coalition and Iraqi government forces and by paramilitary or criminal attacks by others. This data is based on 51,608 database entries from the beginning of the war to 28 Feb 2017, and on monthly preliminary data from that date onwards. Available details are provided about each incident.
Incidence of Bombing and Political Violence in Yemen | Yemen Data Project
Tagline – Collating and disseminating data on the conduct of the war in Yemen with the purpose of increasing transparency and promoting accountability.
Org profile: The Yemen Data Project collects and disseminates data on the war in Yemen. They aim to increase transparency and promote accountability among the parties involved in the conflict. They collect independent and neutral data to inform humanitarian response, human rights advocacy, media coverage, and policy discussions without advocacy for any political cause or alignment to specific parties or policies.
Databases: The Yemen Data Project collects data on the aerial bombardments in Yemen and on incidents of political violence. Data is free for download. Data includes the date and time of the attack, along with the perpetrator of the bombing and intended target. It includes a list of civilian casualties and injuries, along with data about women and children injured and killed. They also make a distinction between air strikes (isolated strike) and air raids (multiple strikes within an hour period).
I’ve included two examples of organizations that provide resources for civilians and community groups in contexts affected by violent conflict. I hope these are helpful for readers living in such contexts.
Resources for documenting atrocities and gross violations | eyeWitness to Atrocities
Tagline – We use an innovative approach, combining law and technology, to build a world where those who commit the worst international crimes are held responsible for their actions.
Org profile: eyeWitness to Atrocities supports civil society groups, journalists and civilians to document war crimes in an effort to hold perpetrators accountable and seek justice for the worst international crimes.
Databases and publications: Their website has a bunch of user-friendly downloadable resources to help documenters capture relevant and reliable audio-visual evidence that can lead to justice.
Research and Reports on Civilians in Conflict | by Center for Civilians in Armed Conflict
Tagline – We support communities affected by conflict in their quest for protection and strengthen the resolve and capacity of armed actors to prevent and respond to civilian harm.
Org profile: The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) advocates for the protection of civilians caught in conflict zones worldwide. Their focus is on working with armed actors to ensure that civilians are not targeted or harmed by military or armed action. They also conduct research on the impact of conflict on civilian populations and work to build the capacity of local organizations to address the needs of affected communities.
Databases and publications: CIVIC publishes regular research reports, policy briefs and op-eds advocating for the protection of civilians in conflict. They also have a comprehensive toolkit for civil society actors and governments seeking to achieve a high global standard of protection for civilians caught in armed conflict and war. The toolkit is available in English, Arabic, French and Ukrainian.
There are so many organizations dedicated to tracking data on militarism, the arms trade, and violent conflict. I hope you find the databases, reports, and resources I included here useful for your peace efforts. At the very least, I hope you have discovered something valuable here that you can apply to your own peace efforts.
This blog post was inspired by another recent post I wrote called “51 Think Tanks and Thought Leaders in Global Peacebuilding.” I had 12 of these listed on that blog post, but then thought they deserved their own blog post once I recognized how useful it would be to have a separate blog post focused on databases.
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