Conflict and Fragility Linking Security System Reform and Armed Violence Reduction: Programming Note

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Advances in information and communication technology ICT represent great opportunities for innovation, growth, and the unfettered exchange of ideas. However, alongside opportunities are risks. New technologies and automation are rapidly transforming industries, with the effect of reducing the need for unskilled or semiskilled labor in industries.

Interconnectivity also enables transnational organized crime to flourish, allows the rapid transmission of violent ideologies, and leaves economies vulnerable to cybercrime. Climate change, too, presents new challenges, especially to poor and vulnerable countries and communities Nordas and Gleditsch By itself, climate change does not cause violent conflict. However, it does create major stress, especially in fragile situations where governments have limited means to help their populations adapt.

Risks associated with climate change can combine with and exacerbate risks of violence through factors such as food insecurity, economic shocks, and migration Marc, Verjee, and Mogaka ; Schleussner et al. This new global landscape features significant demographic shifts that may create new stresses, as well as opportunities, for global and national systems.

Already there are more young people in the world than at any other time in history—1. Harnessing the potential of a growing young population is an important challenge. In addition, population growth, while a positive force for economies, also puts pressure on labor markets, which will have to absorb the estimated million new workers entering the workforce in the next 10 years ILO These demographic shifts are occurring against the backdrop of slow and uneven global economic growth.

World trade value, merchandise exports, and commercial trade services all grew substantially over the past 70 years, contributing to consolidating peace in the aftermath of World War II. However, trade growth has been marked in recent years by downturns and a prolonged period of only modest improvement since the global financial crisis of In , trade growth fell, for the fifth consecutive year, below 3 percent.

Meanwhile, foreign direct investment has also been decreasing, adversely affecting growth and productivity Hale and Xu These trends do not directly affect violent conflict; however, they do put additional stresses on systems and people and can increase the tendency for groups to mobilize for perceived grievances.

Prevention is about creating incentives for actors to choose actions that resolve conflict without violence. An important corollary is that inclusive approaches to prevention should recognize and address group grievances early. Violence is highly path- dependent: once it takes hold, incentives and systems begin to reorient themselves in ways that sustain violence.

Effective prevention requires acting before grievances harden and the threat of violence narrows the choices available for leaders and elites, understood as groups who hold power or influence in a society. As figure ES. The pathway construct helps to conceptualize the temporal aspect of prevention.

Replication Datasets

The behavior of domestic actors will adjust to changing events and the decisions of other actors. Reforming institutions to sustain peace and addressing structural factors that underpin grievances can take longer. This temporal aspect is important for international action. Development actors, for example, tend to decrease their engagement or withdraw altogether when risks escalate.

Political actors tend to engage only when the risk of violence is high or violence is already present. Instead, viable, sustained action in support of preventing violence is needed throughout policies and programs. When an aggrieved group assigns blame to others or to the state for its perceived economic, political, or social exclusion, then emotions, collective memories, frustration over unmet expectations, and a narrative that rouses a group to violence can all play a role in mobilization to violence Nygard et al. People come together in social groups for a variety of subjective and objective reasons.

They may share feelings, history, narratives of humiliation, frustrations, or identities that motivate them to collective action in different ways, at different times, and in different situations. Perceptions of inequality between groups often matter more in terms of mobilization than measured inequality and exclusion Rustad ; Stewart , , This pattern of exclusion include inequality in the distribution of and access to political opportunity and power among groups, including access to the executive branch and the police and military.

Political exclusion provides group leaders with the incentive to mobilize collective action to force or negotiate change. Exclusion that is enforced by state repression poses a grave risk of violent conflict Bakker, Hill, and Moore ; Piazza ; Stewart Countries where governments violate human rights, especially the right to physical integrity, through practices such as torture, forced disappearances, political imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings, are at a higher risk for violent conflict Cingranelli et al. In these contexts, repression creates incentives for violence by reinforcing the perception that there is no viable alternative for expressing grievances and frustration.

Societies that offer more opportunities for youth participation in the political and economic realms and provide routes for social mobility for youth tend to experience less violence Idris ; Paasonen and Urdal Similarly, cross-country studies find evidence that high levels of gender inequality and gender-based violence in a society are associated with increased vulnerability to civil war and interstate war and the use of more severe forms of violence in conflict Caprioli et al.

Linking Security System Reform and Armed Violence Reduction - Programming note

Inequality and exclusion manifest most starkly in policy arenas related to access to political power and governance; land, water, and extractive resources; delivery of basic services; and justice and security. As the spaces where livelihoods and well-being are defined and defended, access to these arenas can become, quite literally, a matter of life or death. The arenas reflect the broader balance of power in society, and as such, they are highly contestable and often resistant to reform.

Competition for power is an age-old source of conflict. Power balances and imbalances can put a society at risk of violence. Experience shows that more inclusive and representative power-sharing arrangements lower the risk of violent conflict. Decentralizing, devolving, or allowing autonomy of subnational regions or groups can help to accommodate diversity and lower the risk of violence at the national level.

Resources such as land, water, and extractives are traditional sources of friction. The effects of climate change, population growth, and urbanization are intensifying these risks. Disputes over resources have spilled over into violent conflict and instability across the world. Improving the sharing of resources and benefits derived from them as well as strengthening local conflict resolution mechanisms are important areas of focus.

Service delivery does not have a direct relationship with violence, but it affects state legitimacy and the ability of the state to mediate conflicts Brinkerhoff, Wetterberg, and Dunn ; Sacks and Larizza ; Stel and Ndayiragiie The way in which services are delivered and the inclusiveness and perceptions of fairness in service delivery matter as much as— perhaps more than—the quality of services delivered Sturge et al.

Security and justice institutions that operate fairly and in alignment with the rule of law are essential to preventing violence and sustaining peace.


Accountability of security forces to the citizen, stronger community policing approaches, and improved efficiency of redress mechanisms are among the responses often needed. Drawing on the pathways framework, the study describes the experience of national actors in three key areas: shaping the incentives of actors for peace, reforming institutions to foster inclusion, and addressing structural factors that feed into grievances.

From the case studies analyzed for this report, common patterns emerge even if specific prescriptions do not. Overall, the studies suggest that effective prevention is a collective endeavor—led domestically, built on existing strengths, and with international and regional support. A central dilemma for all countries examined is that the incentives for violence are often certain and specific to an individual or group, while the incentives for peace are often uncertain, and diffuse World Bank To shape incentives, governments took advantage of transition moments to introduce both long-term reforms or investments targeting structural factors, while implementing immediate initiatives that buttressed confidence in commitments to more inclusive processes.

Decisive leadership provided incentives for peaceful contestation, not least by mobilizing narratives and appealing to norms and values that support peaceful resolution World Bank Nevertheless, before or after violence, countries that have found pathways to sustainable peace have eventually tackled the messy and contested process of institutional reform. Expanding access to the arenas of contestation has been key to increasing representation and alleviating grievances related to exclusion.

Often, the transition moment that led to sustainable peace was based on a shift away from security-led responses and toward broader approaches that mobilized a range of sectors in support of institutional reforms. Alongside institutional reform, however, in many cases, governments invested in addressing structural factors, launching programs targeting socioeconomic grievances, redistributing resources, and addressing past abuses even while violence was ongoing. In these experiences, the greatest challenge lay not so much in accessing knowledge, but in the contentious process of identifying and prioritizing risks.

Part of the reason for this difficulty is that violence narrowed the options for forward-looking decision making needed to invest in institutional or structural conditions for sustainable peace. Conflict did not bring a windfall of resources; instead it brought a move to equip and support police, military, or security operations that strained national budgets. Furthermore, preventive action was at times unpopular, with popular demands for visible and tangible security measures trumping longer-term, more complex responses addressing the causes of violence.

In these processes, formal political settlements, or at least durable settlements, have been important, but also rare events. In some cases, political settlements have been applied only to address specific aspects of conflict, while underlying causes were targeted more comprehensively through government action. In others, political settlements were not used as part of the prevention process at all.

The insights are drawn from the background country case studies and research commissioned for this study and a review of broader relevant literature. Since the end of the Cold War, the multilateral architecture for conflict prevention and postconflict peacebuilding has struggled to adapt to a fast-changing situation in the field and globally. Despite many challenges, there have been clear achievements. At a systemic level, comprehensive international normative and legal frameworks are in place to regulate the tools and conduct of war; protect human rights; address global threats including climate change, terrorism, and transnational criminal networks; and promote inclusive approaches to development the SDGs.

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Operationally, the United Nations and regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union have provided global and regional forums to coordinate international responses to threats to peace and stability. The result has been important tools—including preventive diplomacy, sanctions, and peacekeeping—that have proven instrumental in preventing conflicts, mediating cease-fires and peace agreements, and supporting postconflict recovery and transition processes. As conflicts have increasingly originated from and disrupted the core institutions of states, international and regional initiatives have accompanied these changes with greater coordination and resource pooling among development, diplomatic, and security efforts.

While this evolution is welcome, with conflicts becoming more fragmented, more complex, and more transnational, these tools are being profoundly challenged by the emergence of nonstate actors, ideologies at odds with international humanitarian law, and the increased sponsorship of proxy warfare. These conclusions increase the need to focus on the endogenous risk factors that engender violence and on support for countries to address their own crises.

This study amassed overwhelming evidence that prevention requires sustained, inclusive, and targeted attention and action.

Environmental Scarcity in South Africa

Deep changes are needed in the way national, regional, and international actors operate and cooperate so that risks of violent conflict are identified and addressed before they translate into crisis. However, few incentives now exist for this coordination, collaboration, and cooperation. Instead, preventive action often focuses on managing the accompanying crisis rather than addressing underlying risks, even when solutions to the underlying risk are available. On top of that, concerns that UPP targets primarily favelas adjacent to rich neighbourhoods and tourist spots are coupled with fears that the programme will be discontinued after the Summer Olympics in have been held Isacson Even though UPP Social is crucial to reduce violence and prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs, it has not received adequate support Cano and Ribeiro Due to political and legal disagreements between the state and the city administration, UPP Social was transformed into a municipal research institute that could not effectively fulfil its objective to coordinate the implementation of social projects Foley What is more, while the practice of announcing operations beforehand helped keep confrontation between police and gangs low — sometimes with no shots fired at all — it has been criticised for giving criminals the possibility to flee and continue their illegal activities elsewhere Lessing To prevent this unintended consequence without resorting to violent confrontations of earlier days, those gang members willing to demobilise, disarm and re integrate into their community should be given the possibility to participate in DDR programmes.

To begin with, they are notoriously difficult to coordinate and integrate into a coherent framework for action as they involve multiple stakeholders and aim to address various interconnected problem areas in a comprehensive manner Paris The difficulty of evaluating their impact or to attribute their outcomes to specific projects is an additional challenge common to substitutive programmes Mutongwizo et al.

Nevertheless, SSR, DDR, and AVRP have one crucial advantage over coercive or cooperative approaches: they aim to make gangs obsolete by replacing the functions they fulfil for their community, sponsors, and members. By doing so, substitutive security governance gives legitimacy to the state, while limiting that of gangs. Whereas coercive and cooperative strategies by themselves run the risk of strengthening the legitimacy of gangs while weakening that of the state, they can play a supportive role for the three substitutive strategies of SSR, DDR, and AVRP.

Concerning coercive strategies, well-directed interventions by security forces can target exceptionally intractable gangs that cannot be dealt with by cooperative or substitutive means. In this respect, it is of utmost importance that the use of force is restricted in order to avoid civilian casualties. Moreover, cooperative strategies can facilitate safe access to neighbourhoods under the control of gangs so that international agencies can implement substitutive programmes. Still, whenever coercive and cooperative strategies are seen as an inevitable necessity in the short term to stabilise the situation and bring open hostility to an end, it is crucial to switch towards substitutive security governance with the least possible delay.

To conclude, it has been argued that standard tools to deal with criminal gangs across Latin America — coercive strategies, such as military raids in slums and the mass incarceration of presumed gang members, on one hand, and cooperative strategies including the brokering of truces between gangs, on the other hand — have failed to live up to their own promises.

In their stead, the case has been made for efforts to improve security governance by way of substitutive strategies which tackle the root causes that led to the emergence of gangs in the first place by replacing the functions they fulfil for their different stakeholders.

As has been argued in this article, SSR helps end impunity and replace the security-related dimension of gangs; DDR initiatives may substitute their political dimension; and AVRP programmes can supplant their economic dimension. Yet, to reshape institutions — let alone build them from scratch — is a notoriously lengthy, time-consuming, and complicated process. Therefore, the substitutive approach can only be implemented if substantial amounts of time and resources are invested into integrated efforts which address the structural causes for the formation of gangs, while at the same time mitigating the influence patrons exert on such groups.

Development activities should focus on the generation of job opportunities for slum dwellers in order to improve their life chances and to limit the attractiveness of joining gangs. Ideally, this should not be limited to temporary cash-for-work employment schemes, but should include efforts to bring the private sector into marginalised areas that offer an untapped potential for investments but have long been left out due to their bad reputation.

What is more, instead of simply containing the urban poor, the security and judicial sectors must refocus their efforts on combatting high-scale organised crime, which requires ending the impunity enjoyed by the political elite and powerful families in control of the business sector.