Examining the violence in Mexico

Woman peacecaravan 2011 logo

More than 40,000 people have died in drug-related homicides in Mexico since 2006, and recent figures indicate that the pace and severity of drug-related violence is increasing. Organized crime is widespread and appears deeply embedded throughout much of the country. Citizens feel an increasingly pervasive sense of insecurity, and the situation is causing growing concern throughout the hemisphere. 

In an attempt to understand and develop potential solutions to these problems, a group of political scientists, economists, lawyers, policy-makers, and military experts from around the world will visit Stanford this October for a private, two-day conference that will explore problems of violence, organized crime, and governance in Mexico, as well as other countries that have experience tackling similar issues. 

“The increasing violence in Mexico is a major problem for Mexicans and the entire region,” says Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, incoming co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, one of the lead sponsors of the event. “The situation underscores the urgency of problems involving crime, security, and governance not only in our hemisphere but throughout the world. Investigating these problems from a comparative perspective will bring us closer to solutions that can improve security and accountability.” 

In a series of discussions, panelists from the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Germany will examine the effect Mexico's violence has had on civil society, the role of U.S. policies in affecting organized crime and violence, and what lessons may have been learned about combating violence in other contexts, such as the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, police and security reform in Brazil, and the sharp decline in drug-related violence in Colombia. Participants will also look at the potential mechanisms for developing institutional capacity and the rule of law in some of the world’s most fragile democracies. 

“Conflict and insecurity pose the greatest challenge to the development of effective institutions of governance and rule of law in Mexico,” says Beatriz Magaloni, a political scientist and the director of the Program on Poverty and Governance at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law. “But surprisingly little is known about the dynamics of violence. Greater understanding could help policy makers craft and pursue effective strategies for tackling the issues in a comprehensive way.” 

The event, scheduled for October 3 and 4, will conclude with a public address by Karl Eikenberry, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. He is currently in residence at Stanford as the 2011-2012 Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. 

Other sponsors of the conference include the Center for Latin American Studies and the Stanford Law School.