In the past, it was widely thought that violence in cities could be addressed through added resources or new policies which focus on increased security.
This often leads external agencies to focus on technical solutions that are easy to implement but fail to tackle the structural causes of violence or achieve success.
This has been partly continued by the arrival of humanitarian agencies in cities of the South who are now intervening to address violence alongside their emergency relief efforts.
“The early optimism that violence could be addressed as a time-bound issue is fast disappearing. Environment and Urbanization co-editor Caroline Moser, of the Global Urban Research Centre at the University of Manchester, said.
The International Institute for Environment and Development last week quoted a new research published last week in the Environment and Urbanization journal that showed that new approaches of managing rising violence in the global South.
Moser said that while this may deepen, transform and mutate into unforeseeable forms, violence in cities is here to stay. “With this in mind, we can move towards a more nuanced understanding of urban violence and a more realistic assessment of what can and cannot be done to reduce, better manage and contest it.”
This issue of the journal comes 10 years after Environment and Urbanization’s first special issue on “Urban Violence and Insecurity”.
As well as this paradigm shift in the overall approach on how to manage violence in cities, this issue also reflects on aspects which have gained importance in the last decade.
A notable change is the dramatic increase in conflict in urban areas with many cities now being primary sites for warfare, the journal editors said.
Although conflict has always been present in some form, it is now of greater critical importance in cities in the global South, which are increasingly defined not only by violence but also by conflict. Nevertheless, it is everyday violence that in most cities has far more impact than the occasional more sensational stories of violence or conflict reported in the international media.
This issue of the journal provides new insights which could help those affected to manage violence on a day-to-day basis, as well as empower them to question and address the causes.
Read also: How to manage violence in Third World cities on this site.
Photo: May 2008, South African metro cops fire rubber bullets to disperse a mob that attacked and killed black foreigners outside Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)