CHRGJ’s prevention work centers around its Prevention Project which seeks to transform prevention practices through research, conceptual clarification, and integration of knowledge and expertise. The project engages diverse stakeholders to develop a comprehensive prevention framework of evidence-based approaches and initiatives with proven preventive potential. The need for a systematic approach to prevention practice was proposed by Pablo de Greiff during his mandate as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence from 2012 to 2018, and subsequently, as a rapporteur in the group of experts on prevention appointed by the Human Rights Council from 2019 to 2020. As sketched in his reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, a comprehensive framework outlines the breadth of initiatives required for effective prevention and clarifies the relationship between the elements of a broad prevention policy in order to guide decision-making in a methodical way. It would give substance to the consensus on the need to broaden and to ‘upstream’ prevention work—a consensus that manifests itself more in rhetoric than in practice.

“We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price… We need a whole new approach…”
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

Community of Practice

Just as important as the research and conceptual work giving content to the framework is the process of its articulation. From the UN to the World Bank, multilateral actors have underlined that effective prevention needs action across silos of knowledge and expertise. Thus, the Prevention Project seeks to create a community of practice where influential stakeholders in the prevention field working on separate streams of prevention (conflict prevention, mass atrocity and genocide prevention, humanitarian aid, human rights violations, etc.) and taking part in currently siloed discussions (rule of law, transitional justice, development, peace and security, responsibility to protect, gender, etc.) can interact and discuss both synergies and areas of conflict to inform the prevention framework. In this sense, the project is action oriented and designed not merely to produce insight but also to transform practice.

Thematic Work Streams

The Prevention Project is driven by six work streams of diverse experts who make recommendations to a core group of major stakeholders within the UN system, including representatives of governments, regional systems, civil society, and academia. Consistent with social scientific insight which insists that durable social transformation calls for work across multiple spheres, the Prevention Project undertakes work in the following thematic areas:

  1. Constitutional and Legal Tools: initiatives that strengthen the preventive potential of official civilian institutions, especially in the legal and justice sector, including opposition party regimes and constitutional reform measures that reduce violence and conflict.
  2. Security: initiatives relating to the security sector, including the preventive potential of community and ‘place-based’ policing strategies, and civilian oversight mechanisms over the armed forces.
  3. State Capture: initiatives to address inequalities, different forms of socio-economic marginalization and corruption, focusing on strategies to overcome state capture.
  4. Strengthening Civil Society: initiatives to strengthen the preventive potential of non-state institutions, focusing on measures to strengthen civil society.
  5. Psychosocial Support: initiatives seeking changes in the domain of personal dispositions, focusing on the provision of psycho-social assistance to survivors.
  6. Culture: interventions in the sphere of culture, including broad initiatives that strengthen solidarity and tolerance through education, arts and culture, memorialization and documentation.

The project is funded by the Governments of Switzerland, Ireland, and the Netherlands, Starlings Fund (a fund of Tides Foundation), and with a grant from a family foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.

Pablo de Greiff
Transitional Justice Program Director
Prevention Project Director
Senior Fellow
Mikhal Shachar
Policy & Program Manager, Prevention Project
Rob Lothman
Legal and Policy Director, Prevention Project
Event Recordings

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