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Half a million murders in 2012, UN report finds


Nearly half a million people were murdered worldwide in 2012, according to a survey just released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Global Study on Homicide 2013, released on April 10, is a fascinating worldwide picture of murders. Notably, the data here refers to intentional unlawful killings outside of conflict areas, so it excludes those who died by suicide or in armed conflict along with those lawfully killed by police forces.

A few of the study’s key findings deserve particular attention:

  • The largest share of the world’s homicide victims, 36%, were in the Americas. Africa accounted for 31%.
  • Half of all global homicides occur in countries accounting for just 11% of the total population.
  • In the vast majority of countries, the most populous city records higher homicide rates than elsewhere in the country.
  • Patterns of homicide against men and women are very different. While the global male homicide rate is nearly four times that of women (9.7 vs. 2.7 per 100,000), 2/3 of the victims of intimate partner or family-related homicides are women.
  • 36,000 children under the age of 15 were murdered in 2012.
  • Homicide related to organised crime accounts for roughly 30% of murders in the Americas, compared to less than 1% in Asia, Europe and Oceania.
  • 4 out of every 10 murders worldwide was committed with a gun. In the Americas, the figure is between 6 and 7 out of 10.
  • In 70 out of the 193 countries covered by the survey, homicide data from either national public safety or public health agencies were not available.

These findings are a stark reminder that the impact of armed violence is not confined to war zones. And it is a stark reminder that more remains to be done to accurately record information about the victims of armed violence, so that states worldwide can craft better policy to address it.

Read the full report here.

Read more about AOAV’s work on casualty recording here.