The UCDP was properly established at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research in the mid-1980s under the name Conflict Data Project. From the start, the aim has been to collect conflict data. However, the definitions have gradually been refined primarily to fit scholarly requirements of global comparability. The definitions are designed so as to pick up the same phenomenon across time and space. This makes the data useful for systematic studies of the origins of conflict, conflict dynamics and conflict resolution. With the creation of the global conflict database (UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia) in 2004, this information became available to users all over the world.
The scope of the UCDP has gradually expanded. In the autumn of 2003 the amount of work on conflict data collection led to a change in the name of the project and it was thus turned into the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. This includes the regular collection of state-based armed conflicts, the global, online conflict database (UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia) as well as additional categories of data relating to for instance non-state actors and one-sided violence. Also, issues of reconciliation, prevention, peacemaking and social impact of conflicts have led to the addition of new projects.
In 2011, the program published the UCDP Georeferenced Event Data (GED) with temporally and geographically disaggregated data, opening up for new forms of research and sub-national analyses. To make these new data available and accessible to the research community as well as to practitioners, the UCDP, in 2016, launched an interactive web-based system for visualising, handling and downloading data.
UCDP’s strength has always been the unique intention of the program and commitment to being a data provisioning group rather than an appendix to a research project. UCDP is exclusive in being fully staffed by permanent full-time employees at all levels – from data collection and data processing all the way to analysis and management. The program consists of 10-15 researchers, coordinators and research assistants, and has an annual turnover of 5-10 million SEK (approx. USD 600 000-1 250 000).
The work of the conflict data program has basically rested on external funding: various research foundations and governmental agencies have extended considerable support to the work. Currently, the Swedish Research Council and Uppsala University are major contributors to the work of the program. Previously, the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) were major contributors to the program. UCDP has also cooperated with international research institutes and projects. For example, the close connections to PRIO (Peace Research Institute Oslo) and HSRP (Human Security Report Project) at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, have generated projects for backdating conflicts as well as venturing into the issues of non-state conflicts and one-sided violence.