Violence is a phenomenon very difficult to measure. Nonetheless, a better measurement of violence is a prerequisite for our understanding of the phenomena and our ability to design effective policies for its reduction.
Since its founding, CERAC has worked with the development and the application of new methods to better measure violence. In particular, CERAC has developed a Database on the Colombian Armed Conflict (BDCAC) and the System for Analysis and Register of Conflict Actions (SARAC) which is used to conflict events and other forms of violent actions.
CERAC also works on projects directed towards the measurement of political violence not associated with the internal conflict and the forms of violence related to organized crime associated with drug trafficking. In addition, projects seeking to measure particular forms of violence, such as massacres, or violence that affects particular societal groups, such as women, youth, children, members of the labor union or a particular political party, has also been developed.
The methodology developed by CERAC has as principal units of analysis the “event” and the “victim”. An event refers to a violent act or action that occurs in a given place and at a particular time. Victims of violence, on the other hand, refer to persons that suffer a physical or psychological harm as a consequence of the violent action within the context of a given event. For each case a number of variables are registered and coded, then added to the relational database with hierarchical tables.
The method developed for the measurement of violence is constantly upgraded and adjusted as due to new circumstances given the dynamics of the transformation of violence.
Hence, the construction of the database is a continuous work, not only because of the continuation of the violence, but because each day, new information of past events emerge and must be coded and included.