Crime, violence and conflict: Rethinking peacebuilding to meet contemporary challenges

This paper examines the challenges and opportunities for peacebuilders in responding to criminal groups in conflict environments. This is part of our Peace Focus series.

Conflict deaths are decreasing as a result of fewer civil wars and interstate wars. However, a quarter of the world’s population still lives in the shadow of different types of organised violence, notably violence perpetrated by criminal groups and urban violence.

This suggests shifts in the constituents, landscape, cycle and dynamic of organised violence. While there are examples of engagement with criminal groups, very little is understood regarding what works when it comes to bringing these groups “back into the fold”. Furthermore, strategies for responding to criminal groups in conflict environments are largely developed without taking into account the experience that exists at the community level in responding to gang and urban violence – as seen, for instance, in the United States.