Citation(s) from the literature library

Control Arms. 2009 ‘Decision Time for an Urgent, Effective Arms Trade Treaty.’ Dying for Action: Oxfam Briefing Note, p. 3. Oxford: Control Arms Campaign: Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms / IANSA. 7 October

Relevant contents

Since the ATT [Arms Trade Treaty] process began [in 2006], Oxfam estimates that 2.1 million people have died either directly or indirectly (2) as a result of armed violence.(3)

This figure comes from data gathered by the Global Burden of Armed Violence project, led by the Secretariat of the Geneva Declaration, a network of more than 100 governments committed to reducing armed violence by 2015.

Inevitably the figure of 2.1 million deaths is a broad estimate.(4)

In other words: 2,000 deaths a day, nearly 100 an hour, more than one every minute - Oxfam estimate

Sources cited:

2) This estimate is calculated for the period from December 2006 to September 2009 inclusive, based on the annual figures published by the Secretariat of the Geneva Declaration in its Global Burden of Armed Violence (GBAV) report. The figures are based on data from specific years, which are sufficiently consistent for the Global Burden report's authors to conclude that 'more than 740,000 people have died directly or indirectly from armed violence - both conflict and criminal violence - every year in recent years'.

This figure is based on the GBAV's estimates of at least 52,000 direct conflict deaths, at least 200,000 indirect conflict deaths (due to disease, hunger etc., which is likely to be a significant underestimate), and 490,000 homicides (which are not disaggregated between those committed with arms or not). In some or all years, the actual number of people killed by armed violence may be significantly higher.

For the purposes of this Briefing Note, we have assumed that that figure has remained constant into 2009, which may underestimate the recent number of people killed. The SIPRI Yearbook 2009, published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, for example, records that 'the year 2008 saw increasing threats to security, stability and peace in nearly every corner of the globe', with the number of major armed conflicts increasing from 14 to 16 between 2007 and 2008. A number of these conflicts, such as those in Pakistan and between Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, also saw intensified violence during parts of 2009.

This Briefing Note, however, presents the figures here as only broad estimates of the scale of deaths from armed violence during the period covered. For the Global Burden report, and a separate Methodological Annex that explains the methodology and its limitations in detail, please see:

For a Summary of the SIPRI Yearbook 2009, please see:

3) For the purposes of this Note, 'armed violence' means the intentional use of illegitimate force (actual or threatened) with arms or explosives, against a person, group, community, or state that undermines people-centred security and/or sustainable development. Quoted from: Geneva Declaration Secretariat (2008) Global Burden of Armed Violence, p.2.

4) Any attempt to calculate the number of people killed as a result of armed violence must be accompanied by a clear caution, because reliable data from many countries is inevitably in short supply. Yet the attempt must be made, and public policy must be based on the best evidence available.

ID: Q1140

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