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6 Creating more peaceful societies: global strategies to reduce interpersonal violence
  1. Manuel Eisner
  1. Professor of Developmental and Comparative Criminology, Violence Research Centre Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge


The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have put violence reduction at the heart of global efforts to create sustainable societies. Goal 16 is entirely devoted to the promotion of peaceful societies and the rule of law and target 16.2 sets the goal of ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. The SDG agenda is an extraordinary window of opportunity to make significant progress towards reducing all forms of interpersonal violence. However, it also poses vast challenges. Achieving significant population-level reductions across the world within less than two decades presents a task for policy and research at a scale for which no precedent exists in the field of violence prevention.

In my talk I will outline the knowledge and strategies needed to meet this challenge. I will argue, first, that scientific evidence-based on randomised trials is important, but not sufficient. We also need to understand the mechanisms that drive major population-wide declines such as the violence drop in many high-income countries over the past 20 years. Second, research on major violence declines across the world suggests that specific violence prevention programming played a subordinate role in the reduction of violence at the population level. A more comprehensive approach should integrate emerging knowledge about the effects of broader public health policies, for example in the field of the prevention and treatment of mental health more generally. Finally, I will argue that the widespread view of an opposition between repression and prevention needs to be overcome. A multi-sectorial approach should include effective policing and legitimate justice institutions much as early prevention, promotion of social and cognitive skills, situational strategies and victim protection.

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