Crime and violence have been two of the main obstacles to human and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean, whose countries are among the most violent in the world. According to a 2012 Latinobarómetro study, Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 9 percent of the world population, yet its countries account for almost one third of the world’s homicides.
Crime and violence impose very high costs on the Region’s economies. Although estimating these costs is difficult and varies greatly depending on methodology and data availability, a 2015 IDB study shows that for a typical country in the Region, these costs can range from 2 percent to 6 percent of GDP.
As a response to this situation, in 2012 the IDB approved the Citizen Security Initiative (CSI) to help improve the effectiveness of public policies on citizen security in Latin America and the Caribbean. The CSI is a non-reimbursable fund for national and regional technical cooperation operations that supplements the IDB’s work in citizen security. Its resources come from the Bank’s Ordinary Capital as well as from external donors through the Multi-donor Fund for Citizen Security (MCS).
CSI has provided catalytic support in three critical areas to help countries improve their capacity to better design, manage and evaluate citizen security policies by: (i) generating, analyzing, and disseminating data to enable the design, execution, and evaluation of policies; (ii) strengthening the capacity of public entities to manage and evaluate public policies on citizen security; and (iii) promoting more knowledge sharing and best practices through regional dialogue and bilateral cooperation between countries.
Since its creation, CSI has financed 61 projects totaling US$25.5 million. The projects have ranged from individual actions in 19 countries to region-wide initiatives such as DataSeg, which will be first interactive citizen security online platform in the Region. The platform will contain crime data at the national and sub-national level and be freely accessible to policy makers, academics, government authorities, and the general public.
Going forward, the CSI will continue to prioritize projects that are aligned with the Bank’s Citizen Security and Justice Sector Framework approved in July 2014, and help respond to the emerging needs for knowledge, engaging the private sector and the civil society, strengthening forums for dialogue and knowledge exchange, leveraging resources, establishing strategic alliances, and expanding the number of countries benefitted by this Initiative.
CSI will remain a source of technical and financial support in strategic citizen security issues. The Initiative will support the countries’ efforts in generating, analyzing and disaggregating crime and violence statistics, and improving data at the local and municipal level.
The Initiative will also help give more visibility and attention to issues related to youth violence and violence against women from a comprehensive approach of improving information, strengthening prevention strategies and responses to victims, identifying what works, and fostering dialogue and exchange among policy makers and other relevant stakeholders in the Region. CSI will look to increase its partnerships with both civil society organizations and the private sector in order to foster innovation particularly in topics related to the social and economic reintegration of at-risk youth.