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A Strategic Framework for Helping Prevent Mass Atrocities

September 2023

This paper is designed to support policy makers and advocates in thinking through the types of strategies that are most relevant to preventing mass atrocities. It does not argue for or against any particular strategy or tool, but suggests that more systematic consideration about strategies should yield more effective responses.

The paper discusses four general strategies that could be used to prevent mass atrocities: (1) dissuading potential perpetrators from committing mass atrocities, (2) degrading potential perpetrators’ capacity to commit atrocities, (3) protecting vulnerable civilian populations, and (4) facilitating leadership or political transition. Each strategy described follows a distinct logic, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A comprehensive approach in a particular case might well mean pursuing more than one of these strategies.

To foster thinking about the connection between strategies and tools, our Tools for Atrocity Prevention resource indicates which of the four general strategies any given tool can be used to support.