Highest Murder Rates In World Revealed By UN's Global Study On Homicide: Which 6 Latin American Countries Top The List?

UNODC-Murder-Rates-World-Latin-America
UN's Global Study on Homicide lists top 10 nations with the highest murder rates. Latin America makes up 6 of the 10 nations. UNODC

Each year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts a Global Study on Homicide to see which countries across the globe have the highest murder rates. This year's study, which found that nearly half a million people were intentionally murdered in 2012, was released on Thursday and the UN made an official list of the top 10 countries with the most killings. 

The Global Study on Homicide 2013 includes six Latin American countries in the top ten list. Translation: A whopping 60 percent of the top 10 countries with the most murders are Latin American nations. As such, it should come as no surprise that as of 2012, the Americas overtook Africa as the geographic region with the highest rates of murders. 

According to the report by the UNODC -- which defines a homicide as "an unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person" -- the homicide rates in the Americas have been high since the 1950s, and have been five to eight times higher than Europe and Asia. What's more, the report also adds that there is a significantly lower conviction rate for murder in the Americas (24 percent) in comparison to Asia (48 percent) and Europe (81 percent). 

The UNODC's top ten countries with highest murder rates include the follow, from highest to lowest: Honduras (90.4 per 100,000), Venezuela (53.7 per 100,000), Belize (44.7 per 100,000), El Salvador (41.2 per 100,000), Guatemala (39.9 murders per 100,000), Jamaica (39.3 murders per 100,00), Swaziland (33.8 per 100,000 in 2012), Saint Kitts and Nevis (33.6 per 100,000), South Africa (31 per 100,000), and Colombia (30.8 per 100,000). 

"Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered," said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, in a statement while launching the study in London. "There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women."

In the Americas, 30 percent of the homicides were linked to gangs and organized criminal groups, which is a stark difference from the less than one percent association in Asia, Europe, and Oceania. And, a gender disparity was also seen in the rate of homicide in the Americas as well. 

"Globally, the male homicide rate is almost four times higher than for females (9.7 versus 2.7 per 100,000) and is highest in the Americas (29.3 per 100,000 males), where it is almost seven times higher than in Asia, Europe and Oceania (all under 4.5 per 100,000 males)," shares UN in a press release. "In particular, the homicide rate for male victims aged 15-29 in South and Central America is over four times the global average rate for that age group. More than 1 in 7 of all homicide victims globally is a young male aged 15-29 in the Americas."

The 2013 report is published in 2014 and based on data from 2012, which is compiled from each nation's health or law enforcement authorities. Should data not be available for a certain country, the UNODC uses estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO). It should be noted that the top 10 list is a ratio of murders amongst a given population and as such, countries with small populations have made the list (e.g. Swaziland and Saint Kitts and Nevis).

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Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.