This chapter examines how disaggregated data on lethal violence can serve to inform effective evidence-based policy-making to prevent and reduce armed violence. In addition to providing quantitative information, this type of data can provide insight into qualitative factors such as the socio-economic characteristics of victims and offenders, locations, motives, methods and weapons used, and circumstances leading to a lethal outcome. Moreover, it allows for the generation of diagnostics, the identification of targets for interventions, and assessments of programme efficiency. Yet such data-based processes represent only one of the two complementary components that enable effective policy-making. The other component is political will–not only to promote the collection and processing of data and its public dissemination, but also to make use of evidence to develop and implement policies and programmes.
The past few years have witnessed a significant increase in the availability of systematically disaggregated data on lethal violence. This trend is clearly reflected in successive editions of the Global Burden of Armed Violence (GBAV): while the 2008 edition offers only broad regional estimates based on limited data, the 2011 edition is able to produce a global overview at the national level (Geneva Declaration Secretariat, 2008; 2011; see Box 2.2). By the latter edition, more countries were making relevant information available, encouraged not only by advances in data collection technology, but also by an increased awareness of the importance of sharing data on crime and violence in the context of monitoring trends and measuring the impact of crime and violence prevention policies.
Like the 2011 GBAV, this volume takes a ‘unified approach’ to armed violence, meaning that it considers both conflict and non-conflict settings or, put differently, that it covers all conflict, criminal, and interpersonal forms of lethal violence (Geneva Declaration Secretariat, 2011, pp. 11–42). While data from conflict situations largely documents casualties, data from non-conflict environments is generally focused on homicides, as recorded by law enforcement, criminal justice systems, and public health authorities.