Overseas Development Institute

Change, Violence and Insecurity in Non-Conflict Situations

Executive Summary

Conflict and war have long been accepted as significant constraints to development. In the past decade, however, violence in 'non-conflict' situations has been increasingly recognised as a core security and development priority. This issue is particularly critical in contexts of rapid social change, and often most evident in 'failing' or 'crisis' states. This working paper explores the relationship between change and violence, and seeks to identify the key cutting edge issues of rural-urban change, which are underlying causes or trigger factors of increasing violence and insecurity, or indeed consequences of the phenomenon itself.

From the complex diversity of rural-urban change issues throughout the world, four dimensions in particular are identified as crucial in terms of their impact on people's well-being, security and livelihoods across rural and urban areas:

  •  Livelihoods, labour markets and natural resources
  •  Social structures and relations
  •  Political institutions
  •  Spatial organisation

This paper examines the relationship between levels of violence and insecurity in each of these four dimensions of change, with examples from Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union. This includes inter-linkages within as well as among different dimensions of change. It should be noted that there is no a priori association between violence and change; when a link is made, this is often related to poorly managed or planned-for change, rather than change per se. This desk review is intended to highlight issues considered to be of particular relevance regarding the potential change-violence nexus and which can contribute to the current security and development agenda.