On the eve of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly (20-22 September 2010, New York), which reviews the progress towards the MDGs, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development and the Geneva Forum presented two recent reports that bring new light on the relationship between poverty, armed violence and MDGs.
The first paper “More Violence, Less Development: Testing the relationships between armed violence and MDG achievement” - supported by the UNDP and the Geneva Declaration Secretariat – was presented by Robert Muggah and Jorge Restrepo. The paper features a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the relationship between armed violence and specific MDG outcomes, both in conflict and non-conflict situations.
After explaining some of the statistical findings, Muggah and Restrepo commented the key findings of the study: 1. the lower the level of a country’s human development the higher the observed intensity of homicidal violence; 2. countries that experience greater income inequality report a higher incidence of armed violence; 3. there is statistical evidence that homicidal violence is associated with low progress on specific MDGs. Dr Muggah also called for the integration of the monitoring of armed violence into assessments of MDG progress and achievement.
The second paper, “Preventing and Reducing Armed Violence. What Works” - prepared by UNDP and the WHO was presented by Paul Eavis. The paper brings together emerging evidence of what works to prevent interpersonal armed violence, primarily in non-conflict situations. Paul Eavis emphasized the need to understand the nature and impact of armed violence to improve interventions, the importance of law enforcement and criminal justice interventions as essential components of armed violence prevention, and the need for comprehensive multi-sectoral approaches, both direct and indirect, that target key risk factors.
The presentations were complemented by comments from Catriona Gourlay on the specific challenges of armed violence in conflict and post-conflict situations and their implications for the development agenda. According to Dr Gourlay, comprehensive peacebuilding approaches need to be in particular bottom-up and evidence-based. The seminar offered an important opportunity for a numerous and varied audience of practitioners, scholars and policymakers to discuss and complement their findings.