Table of Contents

  • The Global Study on Homicide 2013 was prepared by the UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch (RAB), Division of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs (DPA), under the supervision of Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of DPA, and Angela Me, Chief of RAB.
  • The Global Study on Homicide 2013 seeks to shed light on the worst of crimes — the intentional killing of one human being by another.
  • Regions: In various sections, this study uses a number of regional and sub-regional designations. They are not official designations and they do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNODC concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations. The designations used in this study are based on the United Nations M.49 geographical regions for statistical use, which have been developed, used and maintained by the United Nations Statistical Division. They are defined as follows
  • Many types of killing exist, but not all of them are considered intentional and/or unlawful. Defined as “unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person”, intentional homicide is the main focus of this study. For the sake of simplicity, however, the term “homicide” is used throughout as shorthand for “intentional homicide”.
  • Through the filter of data from the global to the sub-national level, the Global Study on Homicide 2013 gives a comprehensive overview of intentional homicide across the world. As homicide is one of the most comparable and accurate indicators for measuring violence, the aim of this study is to improve understanding of criminal violence by providing a wealth of information about where homicide occurs and with what intensity, about who is most at risk, why they are at risk and exactly how their lives are taken from them. Additionally, homicide patterns over time shed light on regional differences, especially when looking at long-term trends.
  • This chapter provides a snapshot of intentional homicide through an increasingly focused lens. Beginning at the global level and ending at the subnational level, it subsequently looks at homicide from the perspective of age and sex before analysing homicide trends from 1955 to the present. Whether across regions, sub-regions and countries, age and sex groups, and even over time, the picture of homicide it reveals is one of marked contrasts.
  • The study of why people kill other people is vital from a policy perspective, as without such knowledge it is very difficult to implement appropriate strategies and policies for the prevention and reduction of homicide. A number of homicide types can be identified on the basis of elements such as premeditation, motivation, context, instrumentality and perpetrator-victim relationship, which all play roles of varying magnitudes in different forms of homicide. That said, developing homicide typologies is a complex business, not least because they sometimes overlap and, in real life, homicide drivers can be multiple. Indeed, further research and methodological work is needed to help develop a comprehensive categorization of homicide, but some of its typologies, which are particularly relevant from the crime prevention perspective, can already be identified in the following manner
  • As established in the previous chapter, homicide in all its types is the result of the specific internal motivations and objectives of its perpetrator(s). However, a number of intermediate factors that cut across all typologies can also play a role in the process that leads someone to commit homicide. To show how different homicide mechanisms, whether including a weapon or not, are used across the world, and to assess to what extent different types of homicide can be associated with different killing instruments, this chapter analyses how homicides are perpetrated. The role of psychoactive substances, such as illicit drugs and alcohol, as homicide “enablers” is also considered. A better understanding of the influence of such elements in facilitating homicide can be of great value for the development of homicide prevention policies, which, when appropriately targeted at such elements, can reduce violence before it becomes lethal.
  • In countries with recent experience of conflict, it is often difficult to disentangle violence that is an after-effect of conflict, or a lower-intensity continuation of conflict, from violence related to other criminal activities. The formal end of an armed conflict does not necessarily translate into an immediate cessation of all hostilities, and attempts to distinguish between conflict and non-conflict violence need to account for the reality of situations in which various types of violence are often indistinguishable and overlapping.
  • Previous chapters in this study have focused on what is known about recorded homicide offences. This chapter focuses, however, on the response of criminal justice systems in terms of homicide cases solved by the police, persons arrested for and persons convicted of homicide.
  • Data presented in this report cover all United Nations Member States (193) and a number of territories/autonomous entities (26). In most cases, they are derived from national data repositories generated by either the criminal justice or the public health system. In the former, data are generated by law enforcement authorities in the process of recording and investigating a criminal case; in the latter, statistical information is produced by health authorities certifying the cause of death of individuals. For reasons related to the preservation of both public health and safety, national authorities typically devote all due attention to recording and investigating deaths due to violent and external causes. Consequently, either (or both) of these sources are the best possible options available to produce statistical information on homicide.
  • The Global Study on Homicide 2013 makes extensive use of the UNODC Homicide Statistics (2013) dataset, which has been compiled in order to provide users with comprehensive data covering all aspects of homicide discussed in this study. In all, the UNODC Homicide Statistics (2013) dataset presents data for 219 countries and territories.