Violence prevention requires early warning, and the availability of rigorous, systematic, and high-quality early-warning systems that objectively assess the risk of deadly violence at a global scale is scarce.

Currently, the UN system makes crucial decisions on early action, policy prioritization, and resource allocation to regions and countries using a mix of qualitative methodologies and frameworks, coupled with the strategic geopolitical interest of Member States. These methodologies are invaluable in that they facilitate in-depth analysis and a deeper understanding of complex violence phenomenon, but they also leave dire decisions at risk of being made based on selective or insufficient data.

Developing systematic tools for violence early warning, both to stand on their own and to complement the strategies above, is thus essential to making UN delivery of the three pillars more cohesive, nimble and effective. To this aim, ESCWA has partnered with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Uppsala University to expand their political Violence Early-Warning System (ViEWS) prediction model to the Arab States. The initial ViEWS prediction model was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), while the ViEWS-ESCWA model was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).


The ViEWS-ESCWA model facilitates a quantification of the risk of deadly violence arising from multiple drivers and can help identify the hot-spots of emergency that may lay ahead. By providing a systematic, quantitative assessment of violence risk, the tool facilitates a joint understanding of the challenges and issues faced by countries and communities in the region, which in turn will promote an integrated response from the humanitarian, development and peace & security sectors. 

The uses of the tool are multiple: it may provide quantitative data to complement the existing qualitative and programmatic assessments that the UN system conducts to anticipate deadly violence, and its forecasts can serve as a benchmark to be usefully contrasted against current policy agendas to assess how societies are faring against the goals outlined by the international community or national and local governments.

By developing baseline scenarios, the ViEWS-ESCWA model may thus also support a more integrated connection between early warning and policy responses, help implement violence-sensitive policy actions and programming, and contribute to develop contingency planning and risk management in fragile environments.

Past violence prevails as the most important factor in explaining large differences between violence forecasts in the Arab region.
Violence tends to be more lethal when occurring in large populations, so large countries are more likely to see at least 25 deaths than smaller ones.
Socio-economic factors, such as low-income, poor governance, poverty, the rate of undernourishment, and financial insecurity, in addition to increasing unemployment and heavy economic reliance on agriculture, are important predictors of deadly violence.
Poor governance, including lack of freedom, absence of civil liberties, poor rule of law, as well as, lack of freedom of movement, and freedom from political killings and torture by the government, drives the results on deadly violence risk.
The ViEWS-ESCWA model includes a set of water management and governance variables that also contribute to the forecasts: High water withdrawal rates contribute to a somewhat higher risk of deadly violence, whereas efficient water services reduce risk.

Do You Want to Learn More?

Consult the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section or go to Explore the Data to check the predictions.

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