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The End of Impunity: Why some states are so violent and how their societies can recover

  • Acton Theatre, JG Crawford Building 132 Lennox Crossing Acton, ACT, 2601 Australia (map)

The most violent country in the world today is not Syria, but Brazil, where gangs, organized crime, regular crime, and state brutality create a pall of fear over daily life. Why are so many democratic states engulfed by violence? If the problem is poverty, why does homicide disproportionately afflict middle-income countries? If governments are so weak, why do countries otherwise able to deliver for their citizens find themselves unable to deliver on safety?

Rachel Kleinfeld's forthcoming book (Knopf 2018), based on field research in places that escaped extreme violence in Latin America, Europe, South Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the United States, argues that violence often arises from states that are complicit, rather than weak. What looks like a country overrun by gangs, insurgents, or organized crime is a governing system of extreme privilege and impunity for a few.  

Dr Kleinfeld will introduce those ideas and discuss how violence works to bound these democracies, how some succeeded in overcoming their fates, and what her research tells us about countries caught in the throes of violence today. We will then open up for questions tendered in advance, and then for general Q&A.

To pose a question in advance for Dr Kleinfeld, please email with your name, institutional affiliation and question.  Please be advised that not all questions submitted in advance are guaranteed to be asked

About the speaker

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is a Senior Fellow at the ocuses on issues of rule of law, security, and governance in post-conflict countries, fragile states. Kleinfeld has consulted on rule of law reform for the World Bank, the European Union, the OECD, and multiple governments, and was chosen by Sec. Clinton to serve on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which advised the Secretary of State quarterly, from 2011-2014. She is the author of Advancing the Rule of Law Abroad: Next Generation Reform (Carnegie, 2012), which was chosen by Foreign Affairs magazine as one of the best foreign policy books of 2012.