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Global Development Efforts Should Focus On Preventing Violence, World Bank Report Says

In a report released Sunday, the World Bank is “calling for development organizations to place a new emphasis on improving police protection to halt the violence gripping dozens of poor nations,” the Wall Street Journal reports, noting that the report represents a departure from the bank’s “traditional reluctance to address security and policing concerns” because they were viewed as “too political to take on.”

According to the bank, international groups should “build institutions for ‘citizen security, justice and jobs’ as a first step to pulling nations out of poverty” (Reddy, 4/11). The World Development Report 2011 estimates that about 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violence or its lingering effects, Xinhua reports (4/10).

The report “examines how conflict and violence affect economic development and the lessons to be learned from countries’ successes and failures in overcoming those challenges,” according to Agence France-Presse. People in “fragile states are twice as likely to be undernourished and 50 percent more likely to be impoverished. And their children are three times as likely to be out of school,” according to the bank (Smith, 4/10).

“Capable, legitimate institutions are crucial because they are able to mediate the stresses that otherwise lead to repeated waves of violence and instability: more than 90 percent of civil wars in the 2000s occurred in countries that already had a civil war in the previous 30 years,” a World Bank press release states (4/10). “The impact of conflict is so devastating on economies that not a single conflict-affected country has yet achieved any of the” U.N. Millennium Development Goals, the report notes, Reuters writes (Wroughton, 4/11). 

“It’s much easier for countries to get help with their militaries than it is with their police forces or justice systems, and much easier for them to get help with growth, health or education than it is with employment,” Sarah Cliffe, a lead author of the report, said, the BBC reports. “Our analysis would indicate that that should change,” she added (Loyn, 4/11).

“The report offers a five-point roadmap for action, saying establishing institutional legitimacy was key to stability,” AFP notes. “This past decade has seen the increasing penetration of instability in global life – in terrorism, an expanding drug trade, impact on commodity prices, and the rising numbers of internationally mobile refugees,” the report states, adding, “Breaking cycles of repeated violence is thus a shared challenge demanding urgent action” (4/10).