Preventing Violence through Inclusion

The sharp rise in the number of battle-related deaths and the increase in the number of protracted conflicts have prompted calls for a change in the way violent conflicts are tackled, and a shift in focus from management to prevention. But how do we go about prevention?

This research project was commissioned by the World Bank as a thematic research input into the United Nations-World Bank Study “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict”. The project explored the prevention of violence through the lens of inclusion.

Research objective

The Preventing Violence through Inclusion research project (2017) aimed to shed light on how inclusive peace and political transition processes contribute to preventing violence. It sought to understand when, how, and under what conditions the inclusion of a broad range of actors in peace and political transition processes contributes to the prevention of violent conflict, and thus to sustained peace.


Within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 2282 on sustaining peace, this project uses a broad definition of prevention that includes attempts to prevent the outbreak, continuation, escalation, or recurrence of violence. The study considers political processes ranging from the initial halting of violence to the successful implementation of a political agreement. It provides a comparative qualitative analysis of 47 prevention attempts in 34 countries since the late 1980s. These attempts are defined as inclusive if they involve actors beyond those actors with an independent veto power due to their control over the means of violence. Drawing on our previous work, this research project analysed how inclusion takes place through a range of inclusion modalities. In order to account for the complex role of inclusion in prevention, the study also reviewed a number of important context factors which condition the effectiveness of inclusion.

Key findings

  • Inclusion plays an important role in preventing violence, but how inclusion contributes to prevention depends on the kind of violence and the nature of the political process.
  • The causal processes that prevent or reduce violence differ in the early stages of the prevention attempt compared with the transitional processes that follow, as well as according to conflict type.
  • In cases of popular protest, broad-based inclusion is particularly important to building the political momentum that can reduce or halt violence.
  • During armed conflict, elite deals can contribute to the prevention of violence, but only if they are representative of all elite groups, and if they are followed by a broader inclusive process.
  • During subsequent political transitions, inclusion can help to prevent a continuation or recurrence of violence through a variety of bodies that address the causes of violence.
  • Just how far an inclusive body can prevent violence is influenced by the representativeness and independence of the included actors.
  • Inclusion mattered most for violence prevention when the implementing bodies addressed grievances (e.g. political or economic inequality).
  • A set of domestic, regional, and international context factors determine the effectiveness of inclusion.

Briefing Note,

Preventing Violence through Inclusion

This briefing note summarises the findings of the report “Preventing Violence Through Inclusion: From Building Political Momentum to Sustaining Peace,” commissioned by the World Bank. It focuses on how inclusion contributes to violence prevention.

January 2018|IPTI,


Preventing Violence through Inclusion: From Building Political Momentum to Sustaining Peace

This report analyses how inclusion contributes to the prevention of violence in peacebuilding and peace processes. It forms part of the United Nations World Bank Study “Pathways to Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict”.

November 2017|Felix Fritsch, Constance Dijkstra, Andreas Hirblinger, Dana Landau, Thania Paffenholz,


Preventing Violence: The Role of Inclusion in Initiating and Sustaining Peaceful Transitions

This article discusses how and under which conditions inclusion can contribute to violence prevention in peace processes and peacebuilding.

May 2018|Andreas Hirblinger, Dana Landau, Thania Paffenholz,