Across the world, the movement of people is an increasingly urban phenomenon. As such, researchers are beginning to recognize that the developmental consequences of migration are often felt most acutely at the municipal or provincial level. A newly published study Mixed Migration, Forced Displacement and Job Outcomes in South Africa, adds to the growing body of research on movement to cities by highlighting the important urban dimensions of these movements into and within South Africa.
Political violence, conflict, and inequality are closely related, but not necessarily in the ways that people think. Countries in which there is great inequality between rich and poor do not experience more violent conflict than countries with less economic inequality. In contrast, inequalities between groups defined by religion, ethnicity, or regional identities are linked to a significantly higher risk of armed conflict. The good news is that while income inequality between individuals is increasing, identity group-based inequality seems to be decreasing. This could lead to less conflict in the future.
Why pathways toward violence are hard to shift, and what we can do to help
Have you ever left your house in the morning for an early appointment—a doctor’s visit, say—and found yourself, 20 minutes later, outside your office building instead? You’ve made that commute so many times, your body just took you there without your brain really noticing.
We do this on a collective level, too. We develop rituals and continue doing them, sometimes long after they cease to make sense or bring us benefit.
When the report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict was released, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “Preventing violent conflict is a universal concern. It is not only for those in a specific region or income bracket. We are all affected, and we must work together to end this scourge.” However, achieving the worthy goal of preventing violent conflict seems far away. In fact, recent years have experienced an increase in the number of ongoing conflicts.
Policy makers can find two simple but key messages coming out of the jointly published UN–World Bank report, “Pathways for Peace, Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict.” The first is that economic and social development can play a central role in preventing violent conflict; the second is that development needs to be conceived differently in countries or regions that have obvious risks of violent conflict. The report also argues that governments and the donor community are far from having internalized these messages; as a result, huge opportunities are being missed. The report clearly shows that prevention works and creates significant savings—but for these to be realized, actions must be undertaken early and sustained over a long period of time. They must also be strongly focused on the ways in which security, peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian concerns intersect.