OECD Observer
A more violent world?

If you have had the impression that there is more violence in the world nowadays, you may not be wrong. According to States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, the world has been becoming more violent for a decade; indeed, according to the Uppsala University Conflict Data Program, 2014 and 2015 marked the second and third worst years in terms of fatalities since the Cold War ended a quarter of a century ago. As 22% of the global population currently live in fragile contexts and their proportion is anticipated to rise to 32% by 2050, the links between fragility and violence are becoming increasingly clear. 

Fragility is a combination of the exposure to risks and the inability of the state to manage, absorb and mitigate, or indeed, cope with those risks. Take the case of the Central African Republic (CAR), a country riddled with violence, including armed and sexual attacks, which has led to instability, vulnerability and fear among civilians. The state in the CAR has struggled to exert its control over this violence, particularly outside the capital, where state forces have been present at just over 3% of all violent events in 2015. This situation has been only worsened by competing domestic and regional militia groups.

Violence amplifies fragility, and particularly concerns women, girls and young people generally. True, violence is not limited to fragile or conflict states. Nor is conflict the leading cause of violent death; in fact, 9 out of 10 violent deaths are homicides, which affect places as diverse as Latin America and the US. However, homicide rates have decreased globally by approximately 3.5% between 2000 and 2012, but were offset by an increase in conflict-related deaths. If there is reassuring news, it is that fewer countries are registering high violent death rates, even if average violent death rates have been on the rise. States of Fragility 2016 offers the necessary insight to help focus on these intense sources of violence and challenge misleading perceptions so that violence in all its complexity can be properly addressed.

OECD (2016), States of Fragility: Understanding Violence, OECD Publishing, Paris

ŠOECD Observer No 309 Q1 017