States of Fragility 2016

Understanding Violence

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The world is getting more violent, and violence is occurring in surprising places. Over the past 15 years, 3.34 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population, have been affected by violence. The number of violent conflicts is decreasing, but conflicts are killing more people: conflict-related deaths have tripled since 2003. Violent extremism and terrorism are also on the rise. The economic cost of violence is rising too: the global economic impact of violence is a staggering USD 13.6 trillion, equivalent to 13.3% of Global GDP. And civilians, especially children and women, are most at risk.

States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence takes a long hard look at violence in the world – and what we should do about it. The report showcases emerging thinking about violence, presents a new risk-based approach to monitoring various dimensions of fragility, and looks at financial flows in support of fragile contexts. Understanding Violence finds that development, peace and security efforts in the developing world have not kept pace with the new reality of violence. We need to dedicate more resources and attention to violence. And to be effective, we need to put people – especially youth – at the centre of our efforts.

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Violence today

This chapter provides an overview of the main findings about the complex violence landscape in the world today. After a brief discussion of the issues involved in the measurement of violence and conflict, it outlines how violence is increasing, and shows that violence is occurring in surprising places. The chapter then looks at the complexities of violence, its multidimensional nature, and how violence evolves and adapts to changing contexts. There is discussion of violence as a regional issue, including as people are forced from their homes and across borders, and how it is often also an urban problem. The chapter looks at the role of domestic political instability in driving violence, and outlines how civilians, especially civilian women and children, are most at risk. It concludes by outlining the escalating cost of violence, and investigates opportunities in treating violence as a behavioural problem. There are case studies on the Central African Republic and Kenya.

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