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18.5.2021 : 8:50 : +0200

Armed Violence








The Geneva Declaration defines armed violence as ‘the intentional use of illegitimate force (actual or threatened) with arms or explosives, against a person, group, community, or state that undermines people-centred security and/or sustainable development’.  Globally, armed violence kills around 526,000 people every year, most in non-conflict settings. Armed violence also generates significant long-term costs, including hospitalization, rehabilitation, negative impact on household investments, disruption in social and community relations, and severe gender inequalities.

The Security Assessment in North Africa is concerned with the scope, scale and spread of armed violence in the region. To assess armed violence, the project conducts household surveys, focus groups, and in-depth field studies on the causes of violence, security perceptions, and victimization. The research seeks to identify the main vectors of armed violence; and to assess the extent to which violence levels and perception of security are affected by political change and initiatives to restore order and security.

To date, our findings include: 

  • There is a gap between the world’s perceptions and the reality of the situation within the region. This gap is mirrored at the local level, with many reporting that security in general is poor even as they count their own neighborhood as safe.
  • Regular clashes between armed groups and tribes in the region contribute to the rampant perceptions of political instability and general insecurity. Most conflicts remain geographically limited. However, the transnational nature of many armed groups as well as the increasing intervention of national and regional powers in local conflicts mean that discrete conflicts are likely to continue influencing stability and security in the region as a whole.   

  • In areas of continuing violence such as Syria and Libya, in the absence of strong or effective state institutions, such as the police and court systems, other armed groups or actors step into the breach, often bringing about as much insecurity as security.

  • In general, much of the population in the region is armed, with many owning automatic weapons. Anxieties about security conditions are a primary motivation for civilians deciding to acquire firearms in the region.

  • After the disruptions of the ‘Arab Spring’, the weakness of state authority has resulted in a diverse set of formal and informal actors being involved in the resolution of disputes, including governmental institutions (such as police), traditional leaders, family members, local councils, and non-state armed groups. At the same time, the instability has weakened longstanding traditional mechnisms, like the Midi Midi treaty between the Tubu and Tuareg tribes of Libya’s Fezzan region.

Project Publications

  • Still Not There: Global Violent Deaths Scenarios, 2019–30, by Gergely Hideg and Anna Alvazzi del Frate. Briefing Paper, March 2021.

    Download (2.73 MB)
  • Too Close for Comfort: How Algeria Faces the Libyan Conflict, by Jalel Harchaoui. SANA Briefing Paper, July 2018 (also available in Arabic)

    Download (4.21 MB)
  • Counting Casualties: Operationalizing SDG Indicator 16.1.2 in Libya, by Hana Salama. SANA Briefing Paper, February 2018 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (1018.91 KB)
  • At the Crossroads of Sahelian Conflicts: Insecurity, Terrorism, and Arms Trafficking in Niger, by Savannah de Tessières. Small Arms Survey SANA Report, January 2018 (also available in French). 

    Download (4.06 MB)
  • Beyond the 'Wild West': The Gold Rush in Northern Niger, by Mathieu Pellerin. SANA Briefing Paper, June 2017 (also available in Arabic and French).

    Download (1.35 MB)
  • Tubu Trouble: State and Statelessness in the Chad–Sudan–Libya Triangle, by Jérôme Tubiana and Claudio Gramizzi, June 2017. HSBA Working Paper No. 43. A joint publication of HSBA, the Security Assessment in North Africa (SANA), and Conflict Armament Research (also available in Arabic and French).

  • Southern Libya Destabilized: The Case of Ubari, by Rebecca Murray. SANA Briefing Paper, April 2017 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (2.09 MB)
  • Politics by Other Means: Conflicting Interests in Libya's Security Sector, by Wolfram Lacher and Peter Cole, October 2014. Working Paper No. 20 (also available in Turkish, Arabic)

    Download (1.63 MB)
  • Security and Justice in Post-Revolution Libya: Where to Turn? by Fiona Mangan and Christina Murtaugh with Ferdaouis Bagga, co-published with the United States Institute of Peace. September 2014.

    More information
  • Searching for Stability: Perceptions of Security, Justice, and Firearms in Libya, August 2014. Security Assessment in North Africa Issue Brief No. 1 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (318.61 KB)
  • Libya’s Fractious South and Regional Instability, by Wolfram Lacher, February 2014. Security Assessment in North Africa Dispatch No. 3 (also available in Arabic and Turkish).

    Download (821.52 KB)
  • On the Edge? Trafficking and Insecurity at the Tunisian–Libyan Border, by Moncef Kartas, December 2013. Working Paper No. 17 (also available in Arabic and French)

    Download (1.66 MB)
  • Armed Violence Monitoring Systems, March 2013. Research Note No. 27, Armed Violence (also available in Arabic and in Spanish).

    Download (300.92 KB)
  • After the Fall: Libya's Evolving Armed Groups, by Brian McQuinn, October 2012. Working Paper No. 12 (also available in Arabic)

    Download (1.59 MB)
  • Femicide: A Global Problem, February 2012. Research Note No. 14, Armed Violence (also available in Arabic).

    Download (659.24 KB)
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    Other Publications

    • Armed Violence in the MENA Region: Trends and Dynamics, November 2015, Small Arms Survey Policy Brief.

      Download (180.63 KB)
    • Florquin, Nicolas. 2014. Arms Prices and Conflict Onset: Insights from Lebanon and Syria. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. May.

      More information
    • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2011: Lethal Encounters, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat. Published by Cambridge University Press. October 2011.

      More information
    • The Role of Small Arms During the 2003–2004 Conflict in Iraq, by Riyadh Lafta et al., September 2005. Working Paper No. 1

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