Early Warning & Forecasting

Emerging Actor Tracker


The Emerging Actor Tracker monitors the presence of emerging violent non-state actors within countries over the past month, highlighting the name of each group. To be flagged by the tool, a country must have seen an above-average number of non-state actors engaged in violence over the past month as well as at least one emerging actor. An ‘emerging actor’ is a non-state actor that has engaged in violence in the most recent month, yet has not been active within the country over the past year, or ever before. This allows the tool to capture latent groups, as well as new groups. An actor is classified as having engaged in violence if it was involved in battle events, explosion/remote violence events, violence against civilians events, or riot events, as well as the excessive force against protesters sub-event type of the protest event type. Because the tool seeks to highlight emergent threats, civilians (including cases in which members of armed groups are targeted when unarmed/vulnerable) are not considered emerging actors.

This tool is not currently optimised for mobile use. Please view the page on a desktop or tablet device.

Using the Emerging Actor Tracker

Once a country is selected, the activities of the emerging actor(s) are displayed in three formats (Please note: only countries with an emergent group are listed as an option on the dashboard): 

  • A list of the emergent actors in the country alongside the number of violent events in which  they have engaged over the past month
  • A graph displaying the number of violent non-state actors (blue line indicates the distinct number of such actors active by week; the orange line indicates the average number of such actors that appear by week in that same space [calculated using the last year of data])
  • A map displaying the location of political violence events over the previous month, with orange locations indicating events involving emerging actors and blue locations indicating events involving other (established) actors

Why focus on emergent actors? The presence of new actors, and those that move from latent to active operations, indicates a change in the conflict environment. In areas that are relatively peaceful, it indicates that the incentives and opportunities for violence have shifted. In high activity spaces, new agents can indicate factionalization of existing opposition groups; new attempts by governments to seed the formation of militias; and new interest groups engaging in violence with an agenda to upset the status quo. When areas become incubators for new groups, there is a high possibility that more groups may emerge. It is probable that the frequency and intensity of actions will increase, or at best, that more groups will engage in some activity. This means that engaging in this environment, or seeking peace, will be complicated by ever more agendas and compromises with armed groups.

Civilians often bear the burden of new and emergent actor activity. New and emergent actors are typically weaker than those already present, and in order to demonstrate their role without engaging in combat, these groups may focus on civilians as they are easier targets and because attacks on communities can generate significant media coverage, elevating the presence of that group in a multi-agent environment.