Post the Second World War, there has been an increase in intra-state conflict, civil wars and other forms of violence. They have become much more common than international war, affecting close to one quarter of all countries in the world by the mid-1990s. Over this period these forms of violence not only became more recurrent; they have also appeared to last longer (Fearon and Laitin, 2003). Violence is not a completely new phenomenon in the areas of development practice and theory. Rogers (1989) highlighted that there has been a perceived relationship between violence and development since the nineteenth century. The issue of violence in development discourse especially in analysis of the global south has however begun to gain more attention since the 1990s. For example, Africa and Latin America have largely been tagged as the most violent and notorious continents (UNCHS, 1996). The Department for International Development acknowledged violence as a pivotal developmental hindrance especially with regards to issues of poverty reduction (White, 1998; Short, 1999). For some scholars, the rationale behind war are such that are hinged on the opportunities and privileges afforded by chaotic situations to perpetrators of violence such as those tied to the opportunities they afford, as exemplified by the “Blood Diamond” loots of Sierra Leone and the profiteers from the DRC Congo war (Reno, 2000 and Mwanasali, 2001). Other scholars have approached the discourse from the perspective that argues that understanding the rationale behind violence cannot be understood exclusive of a proper understanding of economic development and vice versa (UNDP, 1994 and King and Murray, 2001). They situate their arguments within the context of the linkages of violence and development through “well-being”. This has given more drive to the proponents of the concept of human security.
In terms of conceptual clarifications, development has been conceptualised has a multidimensional phenomenon (Przeworski et al., 2000). Development is the process of improving the quality of all human lives and capabilities by raising people’s levels of living, self-esteem, and freedom. According to perhaps one of the most notable texts in development studies, “Development must be conceived as a multidimensional process that involves major changes in social structures, popular attitudes, and national institutions, as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality, and the eradication of poverty , (Todaro and Smith, 2011). This therefore expounds the multiple angles associated with development, and possible links to development and the lack of it to violence. For example, poverty, a constituent dimension of development has been closely linked to Violence. A popular quote attributed to one of the famous novelist of African descent Buchi Emecheta expressed that “a hungry man is an angry one” and as such suggests a possible causative relationship between poverty and violence.
Similarly, the concept of Violence is multidimensional. Violence has been conceptualized in the contexts of Judicial, social and cultural, political and economic, that can stimulate the oppression of fellow human, as well as jettisons the opportunities of optimizing human realization and liberation. This is succinctly and aptly described as violence of the structures (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois, 2004). The International community such as the OECD provided an alternative conceptualization for violence as the imposition and utilization of force and other means on fellow human for the sole objective of achieving a purpose (OECD, 2009).In the field of criminology Violence is perceived as individual or social actions that includes “destructive aggression and force use for the actualization of a pre-intended cause. Buvinic, Morrison and Shifter (1999) argued that this force use is not limited to just physical but can be psychological or any other form and the motive is to do harm. They concluded that the manifestations of violence therefore includes individual, domestic, organised and public. Violence therefore includes micro levels such as theft, homicide, domestic violence, kidnapping and macro levels such as genocide, war, ethnic clashes among others. Poveda, (2012) highlighted that these manifestations form some of the prevalent impediments to development and welfare of citizens in the developing world.
With violence now taking a major position in the economic development discourse, it therefore becomes necessary to briefly analyse the complex theoretical nexus of both multidimensional phenomena, as well as explain the growing interest in this relationship. Until recently, the traditional knowledge on Violence and Economic development was such that presented a positive relationship. (i.e has countries urbanised and industrialised, violence and crime rates increased). Similarly it was perceived that the nature of violence manifested adjusts with development (Rogers, 1989). This position has however been highly challenged in recent periods. A major basis for this criticism has been due to the fact that it was solely based on the nineteenth century experiences of Western Europe, which contemporary historical studies have faulted (McDonald, 1982). A second basis for this criticism has been based on the bourgeoning in conclusive findings from the developing world, which has proven the traditional generalisation flawed (Rogers, 1989 and Poveda, 2012). Although it however, remains necessary to state that quite a significant quantum of traditional knowledge on violence and economic development was ethnocentric, thereby leading to such generalisations, in consistency with the culture of poverty of Oscar Lewis and the Modernisation theory. Contemporary studies are similarly not immune against this line of thought. There is often tendencies to think of violence has a problem solely associated with the global south. However, empirics have shown that while the developed world tend to have more incidence of violence, compared to the developing world, the growth rate of violence in these developing countries is faster and often more violent that in the developed countries (Rogers, 1989; Zveki, 1990).
Therefore, prime of the rationales for the renewed interest in this violence-development nexus is the increasing urbanization rate which is perceived to be potent for violence due to its resultant inequality and urban poverty (Vanderschueren, 1996). Similarly important is the acknowledgement of the fact that large numbers of democratizing post-conflict states are still apt for violence (Berdal and Keen, 1997). Perhaps the most dominant and compelling factor, is that violence in more recent times is perceived as capable of jeopardizing the economic development opportunities of a country (Ayres, 1998). He linked this through the channels through which violence discourages investment Production and as such stunts economic growth. Craig and Mayo, (1998) linked this to its connections with empowerment and sustainable empowerment.
Similar to the multidimensionality of the concepts of Violence and development, so is the relationship that exists between both of them. A recent study by the OECD revealed that of the entire developing world, the “fragile states” which are violence prone regions were the ones who lagged behind in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) (OECD, 2015). As at 2013 none of the fragile states had achieved any of the MDGS. The study however disclaimed that their might not yet any clear correlation between the MDG performance heterogeneity within these states. The Geneva declaration of 2010 stated that only a meagre 10 percent of the fragile states had the potentials of achieving the development goal reducing their poverty and hunger levels by half while slightly above 40 percent of the less fragile developing countries had achieved that objective as at 2010 (Geneva Declaration, 2010). In an earlier study by the World Bank, “The cost of Violence”, it was argued that while fragile states account for about a third of the developing world, after controlling for China, India and Russia, they however account for more than half of global poverty and two thirds of infant deaths (World Bank, 2009).
Indeed the consequences and cost of violence on development are often grave. While armed violence can be profitable to individual violence profiteers such as arms dealers its implication for the general public growth and development tends to devastating. For example it was estimated that annual armed violence cost ranges USD 60 to 250 billion (Collier et.al, 2008: P22). This over a 27 year period therefore sums up to a whopping USD 123 billion. They argued further that, if violence costs are inversely measured as “peace absence”, there can be possibilities of having a higher impact. Although, economic and development costs of armed violence is not equal and the same for all countries, they however concluded that it accounts for significant portions of national economies. The Global Peace Index in estimating the economic development cost of violence, examined the assets lost and investment forgone and concluded that less violence had the potential global economic gain of up to the tune of USD 4.8 trillion which connotes a global growth rate of about 9 percent (Global Peace Index 2010, p. 38). Brauer, and Dunne, (2010) estimated the 10 years post Guatemala war violence to USD 2.4 billion which accounts for about 7.3 percent of year 2005 GDP. This therefore suggests that violence has a way it uses up scarce resources that could have been used for developmental projects that would have improved the living standard and conditions of citizens.
On the other hand studies such as Stewart (2002) have argued that the root cause of violence particularly in developing countries is the very lack of development. In analysing this relationship, Stewart highlighted Four Hypothesis. Firstly Group inequality Motivation hypothesis: This analysed the relationship through the manifestations of under-development such as religious, ethnical class or geographical divides leading to violence, citing Bosnia’s class inequality violence. Secondly Private motivation and greed hypothesis: This derives from the profiteers of violence such as arms dealers or uneducated and unemployed youths who get recruited as soldiers or rebels in violent situations citing cases of Collier and Hoeffler (2000) analysis on Sudan and Sierra Leone. Thirdly is the Social-Contract Failure hypothesis: This derives from the analogy that with fiscal inadequacies and economic hardships, Social contract between the people and the government is broken and results in violence. Moyo (2008) cited the structural violence in Zimbabwe as a product of this. Lastly is the Green War Hypothesis: This derives from the environmental degradation as a form of poverty perspective. Stewart argued that in this case, the evidence is rather contradictory, claiming that both environmental poverty and resource wealth can be linked with violence, citing a case of Rwanda and Niger-Delta Nigeria.
In another article “Civil war is not a stupid thing” Cramer (2006) concluded that there are no clear pointers that violence necessarily impedes development. Luckahm (2017) succinctly put it that the development-violence nexus can either be synergetic or contradictory. He argued that development can either be as “Violence Prevention” or “Violence called”.
In conclusion, this essay has attempted to investigate the relationship between violence and development. The study presents conceptual clarifications for both phenomena and how the narrative on their relationship has evolved. While, the broader scope studies focused more on economic cost of violence that could have been otherwise used for developmental activities, the Case study focused more on developmental dimensions. It is however worthy to note that the underlying dimensions of interest of development for this study, is such as can be linked to socio-economic and for violence was armed violence. This is however by no means exhaustive of the possible manifestations of dimensions of both concepts as already expressed in the conceptual clarifications. Going by the arguments highlighted in the study, the relationship between economic development and violence can be said to be multifaceted, causative and complementary all at once, where the lack of development causes violence and the exhibition of violence causes development “deficit” through the cost of violence or development “surplus” through the framework of “violence called development”.
 A term used to try to re-conceptualise what human well-being means (traditionally measured using exclusively economic criteria) in order to take account of the impacts of violence.
 Canada’s Country Indicators for Foreign Policy project (CIFP) definition of fragile states extends beyond service entitlements to include those states that ‘lack the functional authority to provide basic security within their borders, the institutional capacity to provide basic social needs for their populations, and/or the political legitimacy to effectively represent their citizens at home or abroad’ (CIFP 2006).
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Laniran Temitope Joseph
Ph.D. Candidate Economics and Development Studies, University of Bradford
Research Associate John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies, Bradford, and Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, Ibadan
Umar Baba Aliyu
Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official stance or position of any of the above named institutions.