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Recent Publications

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Gangs are armed groups that are involved primarily in criminal behaviour and tend to operate in urban environments. Gang activities are often directed at economic pursuits, gang (and sometimes community) security, and providing a familial network for members. While gangs control less than two per cent of the world’s small arms, they often find access to military-style automatic firearms and other sophisticated types of weaponry. Gangs are key protagonists in non-conflict-related armed violence, which claims an estimated two-thirds of global violent deaths.

The Small Arms Survey documents the origins, motivations, structures, membership, and small arms holdings of gangs around the world. Field research in Latin America and the Caribbean has made it possible to increase knowledge on the causes and costs of gang violence, as well as the sometimes controversial relationships that develop between gangs and state security forces. The Survey also contributes to a better understanding of the key questions related to gangs, such as the phenomenon of prison gangs, the role of women and girls within gangs, and the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce gang violence.


Small Arms Survey Publications

  • In Transit: Gangs and Criminal Networks in Guyana, by Taylor Owen and Alexandre Grigsby, February 2012. Working Paper No. 11

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  • Confronting the Don: The Political Economy of Gang Violence in Jamaica, by Glaister Leslie, November 2010. Occasional Paper No. 26

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  • Gangs of Central America: Causes, Costs, and Interventions, by Dennis Rodgers, Robert Muggah, and Chris Stevenson, May 2009. Occasional Paper No. 23

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  • Small Arms in Rio de Janeiro: The Guns, the Buyback, and the Victims, by Pablo Dreyfus, Luis Eduardo Guedes, Ben Lessing, Antônio Rangel Bandeira, Marcelo de Sousa Nascimento, and Patricia Silveira Rivero, a study by the Small Arms Survey, Viva Rio, and ISER, December 2008. Special Report No. 9

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  • Small Arms, Armed Violence, and Insecurity in Nigeria: The Niger Delta in Perspective, by Jennifer M. Hazen with Jonas Horner, December 2007. Occasional Paper No. 20

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  • The Militarization of Sudan: a Preliminary Review of Arms Flows and Holdings, April 2007. HSBA Issue Brief No. 6 (also available in Arabic)

  • Securing Haiti’s Transition: Reviewing Human Insecurity and the Prospects for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration, by Robert Muggah, November 2005. Occasional Paper No. 14 (also available in French)

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Other Publications

  • Leslie, Glaister and Robert Muggah. 2010. Jamaica’s War on Gangs. Open Security. 13 September.

    More information
  • ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). 2010. Urban Violence. International Review of the Red Cross. Vol. 92, No. 878. June. Geneva and Cambridge: ICRC
 and Cambridge University Press.

  • Muggah, Robert. 2010. Fighting the Gang Threat. The Mark (online). 11 May.

    More information
  • Muggah, Robert. 2010. We must rethink the rebuilding of Haiti. The Globe and Mail online. 18 January.

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  • Townsend, Dorn and Robert Muggah. 2009. A Gangster’s Paradise. Open Democracy. 2 December.

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  • Jütersonke, Oliver, Robert Muggah, and Dennis Rodgers. 2009. Gangs and Violence Reduction in Central America. Security Dialogue, vol. 40, Nos. 4-5. pp. 1-25. Geneva and Manchester: Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and University of Manchester.

  • Muggah, Robert and Dennis Rodgers. 2009. Gangs as Non-State Armed Groups: The Central American Case. Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 301 — 317.

    More information
  • NGIC (National Gang Intelligence Center) and NDIC (National Drug 
Intelligence Center). 2009. National Gang Threat Assessment. January. Washington DC: NGIC and NDIC.

  • Kruijt, Dirk. 2008. Violencia y pobreza en América Latina: Los actores armados. Pensamiento Iberoamericano. No. 2. Pp. 55-70.

    More information
  • Dowdney, Luke. 2005. Neither War no Peace: International Comparisons
 of Children and Youth in Organized Armed Violence. Rio de Janeiro:
 Children in Organized Armed Violence (COAV).

  • Decker, Scott. 1996. Collective and Normative Features of Gang ViolenceJustice Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 2. June, pp 243 – 264. Greenbelt, MD: Academy of Criminal Justice Science.

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