Experts from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) discuss the meaning of the term "rule...
Conflict prevention refers to strategies used in the pre-violent phase, at the front-end of the curve of conflict. They may include measures to increase trust and establish predictability among the conflict parties. These strategies are intended to keep disputes from escalating into violence. While routine diplomacy takes place during peace time, preventive diplomacy can help address and manage escalating tension.
The idea that future wars can be prevented before they break out has been around for many generations. In more recent years, governments and international organizations – including the U.S. government and the United Nations – have made conflict prevention a clearer goal.
In today’s complex world, new wars will continue to erupt unless new efforts are made to prevent them. Global dynamics such as political instability and economic turbulence, as well as phenomena such as climate change, may lead to new tensions and to escalating conflict over power and resources. It is important that we have the tools and strategies to prevent such conflicts crossing the line into violence and war.
One example of conflict prevention occurred with South Africa’s transition to democracy in the early 1990s, when decades of apartheid rule by a white minority government ended, and political and other rights were finally extended to the rest of the population. Despite deep-seated tensions, the country avoided an escalation into violent conflict, and successive elections since 1994 have confirmed the establishment of a democratic culture even in the face of ongoing internal challenges, including persistent poverty and high rates of unemployment.
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