The Initiative

The Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative explores novel approaches to preventing (state-led) political violence.

At the most banal level, the Initiative suggests that it is possible to think about preventing violence in a similar way to that in which we think about preventing, or minimzing the damage caused by public health problems like traffic accidents or smoking. Efforts to prevent these problems focus not on ‘original causes’ of harm but on mitigating the risk of harm and damage caused by placing ‘intervening’ obstacles or ‘firewalls’ in front of these risks/harms. The project seeks to theorize, empirically explore, and test similar barriers or firewalls vis-à-vis political violence by drawing on insights from organisation studies, microsociology, and international political sociology.

The VIPRE project will: 1) theoretically develop an approach to preventing political violence exploring the role of the ‘organisation’, ‘circulation’, and micro ‘practices’ of violence (an ‘OCP’ model of prevention), 2) empirically ground this theory through a microsociological study of military training regimes focused on interrogation, detention, and counterinsurgency practices that draws on textual, visual, and ethnographic data, and 3) programatically synthesize its theoretical and empirical components to provide insights for practitioners working in the field as to how to better prevent political violences like torture, the targeting of civilians, and other related violences. The VIPRE project is situated at the center of scientific and policy-making work on security, human rights, and violence among diverse disciplines. It will contribute both to these scientific literatures and wider Swiss expertise in these areas, coordinating with pertinent organisations in Geneva, in particular.

Below, a more full and technical description of the project is outlined.