WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 – Some 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence, and no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal. Fixing the economic, political, and security problems that disrupt development and trap fragile states in cycles of violence requires strengthening national institutions and improving governance in ways that prioritize citizen security, justice, and jobs, according to a new report from the World Bank.
“If we are to break the cycles of violence and lessen the stresses that drive them, countries must develop more legitimate, accountable and capable national institutions that provide for citizen security, justice and jobs.” said World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. “Children living in fragile states are twice as likely to be undernourished and three times as likely to be out of school. And the effects of violence in one area can spread to neighboring states and to other parts of the world, hurting development prospects of others and impeding economic prospects for entire regions.”
The World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development follows a speech delivered by Zoellick in 2008 to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, entitled “Fragile States: Securing Development”. Noting that military and development disciplines too often worked on separate paths, Zoellick called for bringing security and development together to break the cycles of fragility and violence affecting more than one billion people.
The report notes that at least 1.5 billion people are still affected by current violence or its legacies. The report shows how 21st century organized violence appears to be spurred by a range of domestic and international stresses, such as youth unemployment, income shocks, tensions among ethnic, religious or social groups, and trafficking networks. In citizen surveys done for the report, unemployment was overwhelmingly the most important factor cited for recruitment into gangs and rebel movements. Risks of violence are greater when high stresses combine with weak capacity or lack of legitimacy in key national institutions, as shown by the recent turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa.
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