Rethinking the Impact of War: Elevating Protections for the Displaced

34 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2018

See all articles by Steven Feldstein

Steven Feldstein

Boise State University, School of Public Service; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Date Written: July 17, 2018


Broader conflict trends indicate that casualties from war are declining. Despite a recent upsurge in fatalities stemming from the Syria conflict, aggregate battlefield fatalities, civilian casualties and casualties from one-sided violence have all registered significant declines, particularly in relation to major wars of the twentieth century. Global displacement trends are the exception. Cumulative displacement and annual displacement flows stand at record highs – the latest figures indicate over 71 million persons displaced with 16.2 million new displacements in 2017. This challenges conventional understanding of civilian protection trends. This paper presents an empirical analysis of recent conflict trends, focusing on global displacement compared to civilian fatality figures. It discusses the implications of these findings and offer explanations for why global displacement is increasing so rapidly. It examines the relative success of the international community in reducing civilian fatalities in war and offers explanations for why the international community has contrastingly failed to reduce rates of displacement. Finally, it offers suggestions for strengthening the norm against forced displacement to alleviate the crisis in displacement.

Keywords: Armed Conflict, Conflict Data, One-Sided Violence, War, Displacement, Civilian Protection

Suggested Citation

Feldstein, Steven, Rethinking the Impact of War: Elevating Protections for the Displaced (July 17, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Steven Feldstein (Contact Author)

Boise State University, School of Public Service ( email )

1910 University Drive
Boise, ID 83716
United States

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ( email )

1779 Massachuesetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States


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