Mass Violence and Atrocities | Discussion Takeaways

Preventing Mass Atrocities: Resilient Societies, State Capacity, and Structural Reform

October 2013


Vulnerable populations face ongoing threats from political instability, inequality, and conflict. Over the last decade, building resilient societies has emerged as a key doctrine for development and humanitarian practitioners.

At the 54th annual Strategy for Peace Conference, the Stanley Center convened 30 diplomats, mass-atrocity experts, and civil society representatives from across the world to explore the policy dimensions of strengthening communal resilience to mass violence.

The Responsibility to Protect principle outlines the international community’s duty to support state efforts to prevent and respond to large-scale atrocities by helping to build local capacity—a strategy that has gained currency amongst specialists of preventive action.

Participants identified the following guidelines:

  • To achieve resilience, start at the margins.
  • Preventive action is dynamic, not static.
  • Anticipate unintended consequences.

Though the roundtable focused on the preventive capacity of governments and multilateral organizations, the attendees also drew upon practical experiences to recommend holistic approaches to averting violence.