Conflict has changed, and this needs to be reflected in the future development agenda | Jordan Ryan

02 Aug 2013

woman and child in somalia Camp residents in Somaliland displaced due to drought or conflict. (Photo: Stuart Price/UN Photo)

Ever since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, the global community has focused on addressing the challenges of inter-state conflicts.

But in 2013, the face of conflict is changing. Today armed conflicts that cause 1,000 or more deaths per year have declined dramatically. More than 526,000 people still die violently every year, but the majority of conflict deaths occur during internal clashes, as opposed to during wars between states.

New forms of violent conflict have emerged to take the place of traditional wars. These include inter-community violence, as in the DRC, Somalia and Syria, and violence linked to crime, as in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, for every death from a recognized war, there are nine casualties from gang violence and crime. This violence stunts efforts to lift people out of poverty, scars communities and makes women and girls more vulnerable to abuse.

As world leaders prepare to discuss the new global agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals from 2015 onward, recognizing the changing nature of conflict and addressing armed violence as a barrier to development have become top priorities.

This will demand the building of institutions able to respond effectively to the problems of street gangs and arms trafficking, as well as gender-based violence. We must help states to protect citizens and to deliver justice fairly and transparently, address livelihoods, reconciliation, social exclusion, security and the rule of law.

We must help countries invest in better monitoring systems that help predict violence with sufficient early warning to allow for prevention to work. Likewise there is need to focus on building national capacity for reconciliation and finding solutions that will offer young people viable alternatives to crime.

And there needs to be a modified approach to peace building. Traditional peace agreements between elite groups that exclude women and the vulnerable – or that don’t address the underlying causes of conflict – are doomed to fail.

Amazingly, we have significantly reduced the number of wars between states. We need the same sense of purpose and dedication to fulfill the vision of a world that is also free of other types of violence and conflict – a planet free of fear, poverty and inequity.

Talk to us: Do you think protection against crime and violence should be a top priority of the development agenda after 2015?

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