Numbers Count: Dead Bodies, Statistics, and the Politics of Armed Conflicts

Part of the Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development book series (DTSD, volume 4)


This strategic analysis of the body count introduces a general discussion on the measurement of war violence and excess mortality, its treatment by the media, humanitarian organisations, governments and the military, and its legal and political implications. It also examines narratives that contribute to inflate or minimize the statistics of excess mortality in armed conflicts. Emotion, the myth of a golden age, humanitarian advocacy, the political economy of the media, military propaganda, the visibility of certain battles and methodological issues all play an important role in this regard. Many factors push journalists and relief workers to choose the highest estimates of excess mortality. However, inflated figures desensitize the public to mass atrocities, encourage a dynamic where high numbers are required to justify action, and challenge the credibility of population studies and advocacy groups.


Humanitarian aid Military propaganda Excess mortality International justice Peacekeeping Media 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Français de Géopolitique (IFG)Université Paris 8Saint-DenisFrance

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