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Investing in Security

A Global Assessment of Armed Violence Reduction Initiatives

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Conservative estimates indicate that at least 740 000 men, women, youth and children die each year as a result of armed violence, most of them in low- and medium-income settings. The majority of these deaths occur in situations other than war, though armed conflicts continue to generate a high incidence of casualties.   Approaches to preventing and reducing these deaths and related suffering are becoming increasingly important on the international agenda. In spite of the global preoccupation with the costs and consequences of armed violence, comparatively little evidence exists about how to stem its risks and effects. Virtually no information is available on Armed Violence Reduction and Prevention interventions, much less their effectiveness.

This publication aims to fill this gap. It seeks to generate more understanding of what works and what does not, to stimulate further evaluation and to contribute to more effective and efficient policies and programmes.

A large-scale mapping of Armed Violence Reduction and Prevention activities around the world form the basis of analysis, focusing primarily on programming trends in six countries – Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Liberia, South Africa and Timor-Leste. These countries represent the very different programming contexts – from high rates of urban criminal violence to protracted post-conflict insecurity – in which development practitioners are currently engaged.

While offering new data and analysis, this assessment builds directly on the 2009 publication Armed Violence Reduction: Enabling Development.

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Conceptualising armed violence reduction and prevention

This chapter sets out a basic typology of different Armed violence reduction and prevention (AVRP) programmes and highlights emerging promising practices. It “sets the scene” for the empirical assessment featured in subsequent chapters. Armed violence reduction and prevention interventions can be direct, indirect or components of wider development schemes. Direct interventions aim to influence the instruments, actors and institutional environments that enable armed violence. Indirect interventions counter the proximate and structural risk factors that shape armed violence onset and intensity. Broader development schemes may not have armed violence reduction and prevention as their primary aim but can nonetheless contribute to reductions in insecurity over time.

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