The VIPRE Model

The Initiative explores an unusual model for both the occurrence of political violences like torture, the targeting of civilians, or genocide and for the possibility of their prevention. This model draws on a combination of cutting-edge social theory, philosophy, and social science, as well as breakthroughs in the practice of violence prevention, and – perhaps most importantly – conversations with the perpetrators of violence themselves.

Both political, social, and inter-personal violence are seen as problems to the orderly running of society. And they are thus partially dealt with similarly to other much more banal social problems. For example, when you are driving your car on a road and – suddenly – somebody smacks their own vehicle into the back of your own, you expect that they will be held accountable, in one way or another, and that you will be protected. Protected by the legal system of the state in which you reside, by the insurance company that you pay for, and the insurance company that – all being well – the offender, in this case, pays for.The goal is to ensure that individuals take responsibility for their actions and that restitution is provided post-facto for those who do not.

Thanks to the development of international humanitarian and human rights law, there is an expectation that political violence will be dealt with in much the same way as a car accident. When your rights or the rights of another are violated, the ‘normative’ expectation under international law is that the perpetrators of those violations will be held to account after the fact. Much of the success of humanitarian and human rights law is based, indeed, on the idea that the knowledge that you will be held responsible for your actions to other individuals while in a position of power will limit the frequency of abuse. Deterrence is at the core of legalistic, rights-based, and related approaches to reducing political violence.

But there is a problem.

The capacity of deterrence-based approaches to achieve change appears to have reached a plateau. Today, for example, the legal, normative, and moral prohibition against torture is universally accepted. No state admits to sanctioning torture. And many individuals have now been prosecuted for carrying out acts of torture. However, according to Amnesty International, at least 141 states were recorded as carrying out acts of torture in 2014. Likewise, one academic study reports that between 1995-2015 almost all states were accused of torture. It seems, therefore that international and domestic law, or ethical and moral awareness of the prohibition on aberrant forms of political violence, is not enough. Violence continues irrelevant these social developments.

2.     A Post-Humanist Sociological Inquiry

3.     A Design-Centric Basis for Intervention