EWP is partnering with the Good Judgment Project to forecast when the systematic killing of civilians will result in mass fatalities. Below are examples of countries in which systematic killing of civilians met the Early Warning Project’s thresholds, along with examples in which the killing of civilians did not meet those thresholds.
Examples of countries in which the systematic killing of civilians qualifies:
- Syria from 2011-2016, when government security forces intentionally attacked civilian protesters and others perceived to be opposed to the rule of Bashar al-Assad (HRW, AP)
- Egypt in 2013, when government security forces killed more than 1,100 civilian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (HRW).
Examples of countries in which the killing of civilians did not qualify:
- Yemen in 2015 and 2016, when an estimated 10,000 civilians were killed in the civil war (AP). Although there were indications of civilians being inadvertently killed during military operations by Yemeni armed groups, there was insufficient evidence to indicate that civilians were systematically targeted. Civilian fatalities resulting from actions by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners were not included in the analysis, because they were a result of actions taken by groups outside Yemen.
- Mexico in 2016 (NYT), when there were more than 17,000 homicides. Most of the killings appear to be targeted against members of armed groups associated with the drug trade, not civilians. There was no evidence that homicides involving civilians were systematic.
- State executions in China have not qualified, even though estimates range from 1,000 to 5,000 deaths per year, because there is insufficient evidence that the civilians killed using the death penalty are related.
If an armed group is engaged in multiple campaigns that systematically kill civilians (e.g. in different geographic areas, or targeted against separate civilian groups), EWP counts those fatalities separately. Below is an example in which EWP considered the systematic killing of civilians to be part of one unified campaign, and another example in which the systematic killing of civilians was disaggregated into different campaigns:
- EWP considers the government of Syria to be engaged in one campaign that has systematically killed civilians since 2011. This systematic killing is considered part of one campaign because it is a country-wide effort which targets civilians because of their perceived opposition to Assad’s government. The relevant forecasting question would have resolved as “yes” as soon as the total number of civilians killed by the Assad regime reached 1,000.
- EWP considers the government of Sudan to be engaged in two campaigns which systematically kill civilians: one in Darfur that began in 2003 and one in South Kordofan/Blue Nile that began in 2011. These episodes are considered separately because the victims have separate identity, geography, and goals, and the government is targeting them in separate campaigns begun at different times. The relevant forecasting question would have resolved as “yes” if either campaign resulted in 1,000 fatalities during a twelve-month period.