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20.4.2021 : 9:43 : +0200

Non-conflict Non-lethal Violence


Typically described as ‘enforced disappearances’, such acts constitute yet another facet of illegitimate armed violence. In certain cases, disappearance may include the eventual killing of the person who is abducted. In many cases, the victim’s family does not know whether the disappeared person is alive, which contributes to their anguish. Disappearances are also frequently linked to criminal violence, including social cleansing; executions; displacement; and, in certain circumstances, rape, sexual violence, and forced recruitment.

Recorded enforced disappearances declined from an annual average of 1,442 cases between 1964 and 1999 to an annual average of 187 cases between 2000 and 2003, and 140 between 2004 and 2007.



Unlike disappearances, which are ostensibly ‘political’, kidnapping is primarily criminally motivated. Kidnapping is frequently undertaken by armed groups or individuals and involves a high degree of coercive force. Although most kidnapping victims are ultimately freed, the physical and psychological consequences are serious and persist long after the event. Pain and suffering extend to the victim’s family members, who suffer considerable emotional duress during the period of captivity.

  • An annual global average of 1,350 cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported from 1998 to 2002. These appear to have increased to 1,425 in 2007.
  • The five countries registering the most kidnapping cases in 2007 were Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Venezuela.


Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2008, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, September 2008.

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Other Publications

  • Klingner, Jeff, Jasmine Marwaha, and Romesh Silva. 2009. Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A  Preliminary Quantitative Analysis. Palo Alto (CA) and Seattle (WA): Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group and Ensaaf, Inc.

    More information
  • Amnesty International. 2008. Enforced Disappearances: Disappeared Justice in Pakistan. London: Amnesty International.

  • IKV Pax Christi. 2008. Kidnapping is a Booming Business. Utrecht: IKV Pax Christi.

  • Briggs, Rachel. 2001. The Kidnapping Business. London: Foreign Policy Centre.

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