"More than 526,000 people are killed each year as a result of lethal violence. One in every ten of all reported violent deaths around the world occur in so-called conflict settings or during terrorist activities, while 396,000 intentional homicides occur every year" states the 2011 Global Burden of Armed Violence report released on October 27. Today's contemporary armed violence must be considered in the context of new complex realities. The existence of leathal violence in non-conflict settings in countries such as Honduras, El Salvador or Mexico need to be considered as the current number of deaths in conflict settings  has continously dropped since 2007 reaching 58 000 deaths in 2009. Between 2004 and 2009, El Salvador was the country with the highest violent death cases, closely followed by Iraq and Jamaica.

Most Dangerous Countries

The Global Burden of Armed Violence report offers a comprehensive overview of armed violence in conflict and non conflict settings, notably by illustrating current trends and patterns in armed violence.  ''The relative weakness of a country’s rule of law is broadly linked with higher overall homicide rates", the report notes. "Yet particular challenges - such as gang activity, a history of conflict, or high income inequality - may lead to high homicide rates even in societies with comparatively strong institutions and rule of law".

One important dimension underlined in the report is the importance of avoiding compartmentalizing the different forms of violence as often they present overlapping motives including political and economic factors. The report presents an understanding of the overlapping dynamics underpinning the realities of armed violence today. Keith Krause, program director of the Small Arms Survey and one of the authors of the report explains this current situation by explaining the boundaries between political, criminal and interpersonal violence have become increasingly blurred, as revealed in cases of killings associated with drug trafficking in Central America or of pirates engaging in economically-motivated violence in Somalia".

The report was released by The Geneva Declaration, a diplomatic initiative endorsed by more than 100 countries and involving different actors involved in ensuring the effective implementation of the declaration. Active members include the Geneva-based research institute Small Arms Survey, UNDP and different NGOs working in the field of armed violence and small arms.