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Evidence-Informed Prevention of Civil Wars and Mass Atrocities


The prevention discourse in all its forms has tended to ignore or at least downplay the epistemic problems with prevention. Forecasting political violence is not as easy as the debate on early warning often assumes. Effectively forestalling political violence and mass atrocities is much more difficult than the often used rhetoric of a ‘tool box’ implies, which creates the impression that one knows what works. An evidence-informed prevention policy needs to be aware of the limits of our knowledge, but at the same time knowledgeable of what social science research can provide – even if the results are provisional, often controversial and fraught with methodological problems.
Keywords: Civil war; mass atrocities; prevention; R2P