7th Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Meeting
22 SEPTEMBER 2015. GENEVA. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, due to be formally adopted by governments around the world on 25-27 September 2015, includes the prevention of violence, and has several targets that address the underlying causes of violence. This week at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, some 200 of the world’s leading violence prevention experts gathered to discuss how best to harness the powerful opportunities for strengthening interpersonal violence prevention that are contained in the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As detailed in WHO’s Global status report on violence prevention 2014, each year an estimated 475 000 people are murdered, millions more receive hospital emergency care due to injuries resulting from physical and sexual assault, and countless others suffer child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and elder abuse in silence. Beyond death, injury and disability, the consequences of non-fatal violence on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health often last a lifetime. Violence also contributes to leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, because victims are at an increased risk of adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, and unsafe sex. Through such consequences, interpersonal violence erodes the human and social capital of countries, and can undermine development.
Interpersonal violence is predictable and preventable. Evidence shows that a major proportion of violence-related death and suffering is avoidable through investment in prevention approaches such as: parenting support; enhanced early childhood development programmes; life and social skills training for children and adolescents; reducing alcohol availability and access to firearms; problem-oriented policing; urban upgrading and poverty de-concentration. The responsibility for addressing interpersonal violence through these measures rests clearly with national governments.
“Given what we know about the substantial negative effects of interpersonal violence on individuals and societies, and its preventability, the forthcoming adoption of SDG targets for its prevention is a momentous opportunity for governments and people everywhere to scale up their commitment to and investments in prevention” said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.
Four SDG targets concern violence prevention directly. Targets 5.2 and 5.3 focus on ending violence against women and girls, Target 16.1 calls for significantly reducing all forms of violence everywhere, and Target 16.2 for ending all forms of violence against children. Several other SDG targets focus on important underlying causes that cut across all forms of interpersonal violence, including targets for poverty reduction, increased social protection, reduced access to alcohol and drugs, enhanced early childhood development, improved urban planning, and strengthened rule of law and justice systems.
Commenting on these SDG targets, Dr Alexander Butchart, WHO Coordinator for the Prevention of Violence, noted that “WHO and its violence prevention partners have long called for an approach that integrates violence prevention goals into all relevant policies. At this 7th Milestones in a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Meeting, we mapped out the links between the direct violence prevention SDG targets and those that address the underlying causes. We will then use this map to develop a policy template that governments can draw upon in designing national violence prevention plans and policies”.