© Jonathan Austin

Concept Note | The Germination of Abusive Violence

The VIPRE Initiative’s latest publication is now available, below or by clicking here. The concept note lays out the contours of the Initiative for both interested academics and practitioners.


The Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative explores novel approaches to preventing violent abuses carried out most frequently by state agents in contexts of conflict. The Initiative suggests that it is possible to prevent such abuses in a similar way to that in which we prevent, or minimize the damage caused by, public health problems like traffic accidents, smoking, alcoholism, infectious diseases, or firearm-related deaths. Efforts to  prevent these problems focus not simply on the ‘original causes’ of harm (driving while intoxicated, for example) but also on mitigating the risk of harm and/or damage inflicted once these original causes are set in motion by placing ‘intervening’ obstacles or ‘firewalls’ in  front of these risks/harms (constructing crash barriers on roads or cars that beep when seatbelts are not worn, for example). Drawing on cutting-edge insights from sociology, neuroscience, philosophy, and social theory, VIPRE focuses on constructing similar ‘firewalls’ vis-à-vis political violences like torture, the targeting of civilians and genocide.