Byline: Robert Muggah
Violence has always been one of humanity's most serious global challenges. This is because for most of history, we were natural born killers. Hundreds of millions of men, women and children have been killed or maimed by armed conflict, crime, extremism and sexual and gender-based violence.
Not only does violence exact a massive social and economic toll, it also corrodes democratic institutions and undermines fundamental human rights. There is also a risk of certain forms of collective violence escalating in the coming decade, not least with the stresses imposed by climate change and the risks posed by new technologies.
Yet far from the chilling headlines, progress has been made over the past half century in preventing and reducing many types of violence. While promising, the comparatively recent drop in violence is no guarantee that it will continue well into the 21st century. But with targeted interventions and sustained financing - especially in cities - most forms of violence could diminish further still. This is, in fact, one of the central aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, security and justice. The world has a real opportunity to halve violence by 2030. Achieving this will require taking stock of where we are and taking decisions about where we want to go. This is precisely what bold initiatives such as the Pathfinders Partnership seek to achieve.
At the outset, it is important to reflect on just how many people are affected by violence. While difficult to measure with precision, as many as 600,000 people - including almost 100,000 women and girls - die around the world each year as a result of conflict, crime, extremist and extrajudicial violence. Millions more suffer physical and psychological injuries associated with warfare, criminality, and sexual and gender-based violence. Over 40 million people are displaced by violence - including 26 million refugees. If no steps are taken to change our present course, it is not at all certain that these trends will improve in the next decade. Yet if measures are taken to reverse these tendencies, literally hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in reconstruction, reparations, productivity losses and insurance claims could be saved.
The first step to effectively reducing violence by 2030 is to have a clear sense of how it is distributed in time and space. Take the case of lethal violence. There is a misperception that more people die...