Open Access World Bank Publications on Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Resources Series No. 2)

Conflict and violence have dramatic negative consequences for development and the ability of populations to emerge from poverty. At least 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and/or criminal violence. One fifth of the extreme poor worldwide live today in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS), but this proportion could double by 2030 if current trends continue.

Peace conference

Low-income FCS countries have not been able to achieve the targets set forth in the Millennium Development Goals in part because of conflict and violence. In recognition of the impact of conflict and violence on development, the Sustainable Development Goals recently approved by the international community include a goal on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

Rotary’s Peace Conference

How do conflict and violence affect development, and what can be done to reduce the risks of conflict and violence and instead promote peace? These are some of the questions that will be discussed at the Rotary Presidential Conference on Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution or World Peace Conference to be held on January 15-16, 2016 in Ontario, California. The conference is one of five flagship conferences organized by Rotary International in 2015-16. The other conferences will be on disease prevention and treatment in Cannes, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools in Manila.

The World Peace Conference will include more than 80 panel and facilitated sessions as well as plenary sessions. It is expected to attract a couple of thousand participants. You are encouraged to attend, as it promises to be a great experience!

Apart from Rotary International President K. R. Ravindran and Rotary Foundation Chair Ray Klinginsmith, keynote speakers will include Sal Khan (founder and CEO of Khan Academy), Sharon Stone (Actress), Father Greg Boyle (Executive Director of Homeboy Industries), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Director of the Peace Corps), Dr. Bernd Wollschläger (author of A German Life: Against All Odds Change is Possible), Barbara Winton (the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia in 1939), Steve Killelea (Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace), and Mary Peters (United States Ambassador).

Open Access Resources

Rotary is of course not the only organization emphasizing peace in its service and development work. Issues related to peace, fragility, conflict, and violence have been at the core of a substantial part of the work of development organizations for many years. This means that the World Bank as well as other organizations have substantial knowledge to share with researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in these areas.

As a contribution to Rotary’s World Peace Conference, this blog is providing a guide to selected open access publications from the World Bank that could help conference participants think about conflict, violence, and development. The publications listed are made available through the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository. The focus on resources provided by the World Bank is driven by practicality as including other organizations would yield a rather unwieldy list of available resources. At the same time, focusing on the World Bank has the advantage of being able to go global with a single organization.  In order to keep the guide manageable, the focus is on open access books as opposed to other publications such as working papers, articles, and briefs.

Selected Recent Books and Reports

You can access 45 selected World Bank books and reports published since 2010 on conflict, violence, and adversity either by downloading the guide prepared for conference participants, or by going to the Promoting peace page of this blog. The selection of the books and reports was based on the topics to be considered at Rotary’s Peace Conference. The scope of the conference is broad, with 13 parallel tracks apart from plenary sessions. The 13 tracks of the conference have been “aggregated” into 9 topics for listing World Bank publications: (1) Conflict, Development, and Trade; (2) Fighting Crime, Violence, and Terrorism; (3) Proving Services in Contexts of Adversity; (4) Middle East Region; (5) Equity and Discrimination; (6) Social Norms and Violence Against Women; (7) Jobs and Employment; (8) Education and Health, Including Role of Faith-based Providers; and finally (9) Governance and Institutions.

The hope is that the publications selected, and more generally the World Bank’s open access knowledge resources, will be useful to conference participants and others dealing directly or indirectly with issues of conflict, violence, and adversity when implementing projects in developing and developed countries alike. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if these resources are useful, or not so much so!

Ending Violence against Women

by Quentin Wodon

Today, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the United Nations, more than a third of women and girls worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In some countries the proportion is at two thirds. More than 130 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. Child marriage is even more pervasive, with 700 million women living today who married as children. In Africa and South Asia, close to half of girls still marry before the age of 18. These practices are declining, but only slowly.

The widespread negative effects of violence against women have been documented, including in the recent World Bank report Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity. Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth lead 70,000 adolescent girls to die each year according to UNFPA’s State of the World Population report.

The consequences of child marriage, early pregnancy, and violence against women also affect future generations, including the children of girls who marry early and thereby have to curtail their own education. Lower education attainment for mothers has a wide range of potential negative effects for their children. These and other effects are documented not only in the World Bank report just mentioned, but also in other studies, including a study by UNFPA on child marriage.

The good news is that a clear and stronger consensus is emerging to eliminate those practices. On Friday November 21, the human rights committee of the 193-nation General Assembly adopted by consensus (without needing a vote) a resolution urging all states to take the necessary steps to end child, early and forced marriage. Such steps include adopting and enforcing laws banning child marriage, but they should also include providing support and incentives to eliminate the practice.

A total of 118 countries sponsored the resolution, including some of the countries with the highest incidence of child marriage (such as Mali, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic). The resolution will be presented to the full General Assembly for formal adoption in December. While such resolutions are not legally binding, they help in increasing pressure on governments to take concrete measures to eliminate the practice.

Earlier this year, the U.K. government and UNICEF jointly hosted the first Girl Summit in July to mobilize efforts to end child, early, and forced marriage as well as female genital mutilation. At the summit a new three year $4.2 million research effort was announced to better estimate the economist cost of child marriage. Funding is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. The research effort is being led jointly by the International Centre for Research on Women and the World Bank’s Education Global Practice.

The objective of this research effort is to generate new global, regional and country evidence on the impact of child marriage and especially its associated economic costs. The first phase of the research effort will document the various pathways through which child marriage affects girls, their children and families, their communities, and societies at large. Existing household surveys will be used to measure the impact of child marriage on a range of outcomes and the costs associated with those impacts. In the second phase that will start in July 2015, in-depth data collection and analysis will be carried in three countries to validate the models developed in the first phase. The third phase will start in July 2016 and focus on capacity building and advocacy.

The hope is that this research will inform policymakers not only about the (potentially large) cost of child marriage, but also about the types of interventions that could help eliminate the practice.

Note: This post is reproduced with minor modifications from a post by the author published today on the World Bank’s Let’s Talk Development blog at