Violence Prevention Steps
Preventive Diplomacy and International Violence Prevention has a long list of possible responses to early warning, keyed to the conflict stage. Different responses are appropriate when the conflict is just emerging than when it is escalating, has reached a stalemate, or is in a de-escalation or settlement stage.
Violence Prevention Options for the Conflict Emergence Stage
- Improving Communication: When communication breaks down, misunderstandings feed hostility and fear. Improving communication is one way to increase mutual understanding, and reduce the potential for violence.
- Interpersonal and Intergroup Communication: Beyond Intractability's section on communication has a number of essays that describe approaches for improving the amount and quality of interpersonal and inter-group communication. For example:
- Cross-Cultural Communication: Cross-cultural communication is particularly full of pitfalls that can create or exacerbate misunderstandings and conflict. Information for avoiding trouble is found in the following articles:
- The Media: The media is another source of misunderstandings and propaganda that is often intentionally used by conflicting parties to escalate tensions rather than to diminish them. At the same time, wise use of the media can be every helpful in building a "peace constituency" and getting the grassroots citizens involved in and supportive of mid-level and elite peacemaking initiatives. Articles describing the problems — and promises — of mass media in conflict follow below:
- Imagining a Common Future: When relationships deteriorate it is common to assume that the only way one side can win is if the other side loses. The extreme, but all-too-common, example of that is "into-the-sea framing": assuming that the only way to meet one's own needs and goals is to entirely eliminate the other side--through exile, genocide or other crimes against humanity. Efforts to break down this extreme win-lose framing and replace it with jointly held images of the future can be a powerful deterrent to violence. A variety of articles discuss such approaches.
- Providing Fundamental Human Needs: This is one of the Governance Forum's nine core challenges, so most of the material on that topic is found in that section of the forum. However, the importance of providing fundamental needs is key to violence prevention, so it must be at least mentioned here. Introductory articles on what this means and how to do this are linked below; much more information can be found in the Needs portion of the Forum.
- Rights: Rights is another of the Governance Forum's nine core challenges, but an overview of the rights issues are provided here as well, because a denial of rights is a driver of violence.
If violence occurs, even after prevention efforts have been attempted, they need to be limited and/or stopped as quickly as possible. Strategies for doing this are discussed in the next section on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Strategies.