No War, No Peace: Healing the World’s Violent Societies

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Hard as this is to believe, we live in one of the most peaceful periods of human history. Homicides have been falling in most parts of the world for centuries. Despite the horrors beamed across the internet, violent deaths from wars between states are at historic lows.

But there is a darker side to the story. Many societies ostensibly “at peace” are far from peaceful. Some of them are experiencing endemic violence that exceed death rates in warfare. Almost nine out of ten violent deaths across the world today occur inside countries and cities that are not at war in the traditional sense. Criminal violence perpetrated by drug cartels, gangs, and mafia groups is skyrocketing, especially in Latin American and the Caribbean, causing global homicides to creep up again. Meanwhile, state security forces are continuing to deploy mass violence and excessive force against their own people.

It is middle-income countries that are fast becoming the world’s most violent places. Relatively wealthy South Africa has a violent death rate nearly double that of war-torn South Sudan. Inequality, not poverty, is strongly correlated with murder - and inequality often rises as poverty falls.

These situations can only be improved by better quality governance, rather than traditional peace agreements and peacekeepers.

Read full article by Robert Muggah and Rachel Kleinfeld.

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