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Which countries are most likely to see new mass killing in 2018?

Mapped results from wikisurvey conducted in December 2016 to forecast risk for 2017. —Early Warning Project

To help us forecast atrocity risk in 2018, please participate in our annual wiki survey, an innovative opinion aggregation method that presents countries head-to-head and simply asks respondents to choose which is more likely to experience a new mass killing in the new year. The survey will run for one month, until December 31, 2017.

How can I participate?

Go to our survey on Once you vote on one pair of countries, you will be presented with another, and you can repeat this process as many times as you like—even just a few minutes of your time will improve our results.

What is a pairwise wiki survey?

A pairwise wiki survey involves a single question with many possible answers on which participants vote, one pair at a time. The response options presented to participants—in this case every country with a population greater than 500,000—are randomly generated at the beginning of the survey period. However, as the survey progresses and more people record responses, the survey mechanism “learns” from previous responses and presents increasingly difficult pairs. (Read this paper to learn more about the methodology.)

How does the Early Warning Project use the results?

The results are visible as the survey progresses, and will be published when it is finished (see our 2014, 2015, and 2016 results). The annual wiki survey is one of three quantiative methods used by the Early Warning Project to assess atrocity risk worldwide. Along with the statistical risk assessments and public opinion pool, we present the wiki survey results to policymakers in the US and abroad, NGOs, and researchers to help them prioritize prevention efforts and further develop the crowd forecasting field.

How do you define mass killing?

We consider an episode of mass killing to have occurred when the deliberate actions of an armed group (state or nonstate) results in the deaths of at least 1,000 noncombatant civilians belonging to a discrete group over a period of one year or less.

In countries where at least one episode of mass killing is already occurring—most notably Burma/Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria (see the full list of ongoing mass killings here)—we are not asking you to assess the chances that the ongoing episode will continue or intensify. Instead, we are interested in the risk that a new episode with a different target group will begin in 2018. For example, there are currently two ongoing mass killings in Sudan, in Darfur and South Kordofan/Blue Nile, so there would only be a new onset if the government of Sudan  began  targeting another group (i.e. opposition party supporters).

  • A noncombatant civilian is any person who is not a current member of a formal or irregular military organization and who does not apparently pose an immediate threat to the life, physical safety, or property of other people.

  • The reference to deliberate actions distinguishes mass killing from deaths caused by natural disasters, infectious diseases, the accidental killing of civilians during war, or the unanticipated consequences of other government policies. Fatalities should be considered intentional if they result from actions designed to compel or coerce civilian populations to change their behavior against their will, as long as the perpetrators could have reasonably expected that these actions would result in widespread death among the affected populations. Note that this definition also covers deaths caused by other state actions, if, in our judgment, perpetrators enacted policies/actions designed to coerce civilian population and could have expected that these policies/actions would lead to large numbers of civilian fatalities. Examples of such actions include, but are not limited to mass starvation or disease-related deaths resulting from the intentional confiscation or destruction of relevant supplies and deaths occurring during forced relocation or forced labor.

  • To distinguish mass killing from large numbers of unrelated civilian fatalities, the victims of mass killing must appear to be perceived by the perpetrators as belonging to a discrete group. That group may be defined communally (e.g., ethnic or religious), politically (e.g., partisan or ideological), socio-economically (e.g., class or professional), or geographically (e.g., residents of specific villages or regions). In this way, apparently unrelated executions by police or other state agents would not qualify as mass killing, but capital punishment directed against members of a specific political or communal group would.