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PRESS RELEASE June 25, 2020

Research Report: As Impacts of Conflict and Violence Spill Across Borders, International Community Has Stake in Solutions

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2020 — As the challenges faced by countries and areas impacted by fragility, conflict and violence threaten to reverse decades of progress and development, the need for regional and international coordination and collaboration to foster stability and the rule of law is greater than ever, a World Bank Research Report released on Thursday says.  

Over the years, dramatic reductions in the costs of trade, travel and communication technologies have increasingly driven conflict, crime, and violence across borders, according to Violence without Borders: The Internationalization of Crime and Conflict, a World Bank Policy Research Report. Impact flows both ways: instability and failure to enforce laws in one country can have dramatic effects on neighboring countries, and events or forces outside a country can influence stability and security within, the report finds.  

“This report documents how, in an increasingly interconnected world, countries have a growing stake in each other’s fate,” said World Bank Group Deputy Chief Economist Aart Kraay. “Political and social stability and a country’s ability to enforce the rule of law have implications not only for that country but its neighboring countries and their people.”

Addressing the challenges of fragility, conflict, and violence are critical to achieving the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. By 2030, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected situations, and the recent replenishment of the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, doubles financial commitment to such areas.

Violence without Borders documents the extent to which conflict, crime, and violence have become internationalized in recent years. The number of civil wars has increased since 2010, and 40 percent of these now involve foreign intervention. Incidents of transnational terrorism have gone up significantly since 2010. Illicit transnational activities, including human trafficking, production and trafficking of narcotics, trade in illegal wildlife products, and small arms and marine piracy, are also on the rise. Refugees are likely to travel farther, less likely to settle in an adjacent country, and are spread more evenly across destination countries.

“The internationalization of both the causes and consequences of violence means that stability needs to be reconceptualized as a bilateral, multilateral or even global public good,” said World Bank Senior Economist Quy-Toan Do, the report’s main author. “Given that different players have different incentives, international institutions can play a critical role in stabilizing domestic fragility by moving settlement of disputes away from battlefields and toward global platforms.”

Although this report was completed before the spread of coronavirus, its findings are highly relevant to the current pandemic. Like the forms of violence analyzed in the report, infectious diseases such as COVID-19 cannot be contained within borders, further highlighting the global impact of policies implemented within each country. The benefits of international cooperation and shared global strategies as noted in this report, are necessary to help address and mitigate the consequences of global threats from security to health.

The report calls for collecting data and knowledge to support evidence-based policy-making, ensuring that countries receive assistance in implementing policies aimed at reducing internal conflict and crime; and providing a forum for international policy coordination aimed at reducing conflict and crime.

The World Bank's Policy Research Report series brings to a broad audience the results of World Bank research on development policy. The reports are designed to contribute to the debate on appropriate public policies for developing economies. Past topics have included global migration and labor markets, citizen political engagement, and conditional cash transfers.

World Bank Group COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.

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PRESS RELEASE NO: 2020/215/DEC

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