Understanding violence: part 2

The 2011 Global Burden of Armed Violence report shows how the lines between armed conflict and criminal violence are increasingly blurred: for example, since 2003 in Iraq the targeting of non-combatants by insurgents, militias, and sectarian groups seemed random, yet a closer look at underlying patterns of violence suggests that seemingly arbitrary or criminal violence may also serve political
purposes in line with the goals of armed groups.

In many places, non-conflict violence is linked to highly organized criminal activity or to different forms of ‘political violence’ such as targeting political opponents and government officials, or seeking to influence and modify government policies through corruption and use of force. In these contexts, the label ‘homicide’ – which implies ostensibly apolitical an interpersonal criminal violence – is
slightly misleading.

The violent activities of organized criminal groups frequently have broader political consequences even if their main motivation remains profit-seeking: criminal activities such as trafficking have also been used to finance war efforts in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, and Liberia to name but a few.

Some operations of organized crime groups, especially the trafficking of narcotics, are associated with high levels of violence: these groups have shown a powerful capacity for blurring the boundaries between criminal and
political types of violence, as evidenced by the drug wars in Mexico and the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, and certain Andean countries.

Illicit trafficking of drugs is recognized as a major threat to international, regional,
and national security, as well as public safety. There are recurring characteristics defined by multiple, simultaneous, and shifting motivations of violent actors and the links between different forms of violence. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre

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