UNODC releases global homicide data

29 December 2008 - According to data from 198 countries and territories, published today by UNODC, Southern Africa, Central America, and South America are the three sub-regions with the highest homicide rates. West and Central Europe, East Asia, and South-east Europe are the three sub-regions showing the lowest rates of homicide.

'Intentional homicide' is a legal category to define lethal interpersonal violence; that is, unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person. Homicide statistics are collected by both criminal justice and public health agencies, which may measure slightly different phenomena and are therefore unlikely to provide identical numbers.

Homicide statistics are crucial in research and policy making. They represent a robust crime indicator and are - in theory - available in all jurisdictions. In practice, a comprehensive collection of international homicide statistics has never been available and the present database represents a first attempt to overcome this gap. The number of homicides per 100,000 population has been calculated by UNODC drawing upon both international and national sources.

UNODC strives to provide enhanced knowledge of thematic and cross-sectoral trends for effective policy formulation, operational response and impact assessment in drugs and crime. The present dataset provides an overview of available homicide statistics, aiming at the broadest possible geographic coverage. The dataset is intended to represent a starting point for further research and analysis to improve the availability of crime and criminal justice information and expanding knowledge of crime trends.

Where sufficient data is available, a 'low' and 'high' estimate for the number of homicides per 100,000 population captured by different sources of administrative statistics is provided. Data are presented alphabetically in five regional groups: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. These regions are further divided into fifteen geographically-defined sub-regions. Although this is the first time that country-level data are published, preliminary analysis at the regional and sub-regional level has been carried out and published in Chapter Four of the Global Burden of Armed Violence Report (external website).

Comparative analysis of homicide statistics must be conducted cautiously because of varying legal definitions of homicide among countries, together with differences in capacity, criteria and approaches to case recording. In particular, many developing countries show significant differences between public health and police/criminal justice statistics.

Queries concerning the dataset may be addressed to sass.crime@unodc.org.

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Intentional homicide, rate per 100,000 population, by sub-region, 2004

Homicide rates worldwide

The boundaries and designations used on this map do not imply endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

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