This new online course introduces how election violence is a threat to peace and democracy. The course provides participants with knowledge and skills to prevent violence more effectively across different electoral and conflict environments. The course identifies risks and opportunities for prevention through the various phases of the election cycle--before, during and after election day–as well as the underutilized time between elections. The course also introduces different types of election violence prevention and reviews their utility.

A man votes in an election in Colombia. Photo: Tonis Montes, USIP
A man votes in an election in Mexico. Photo: Tonis Montes, USIP

Elections can create anxiety and tension in many transitioning democracies around the world. In some cases, elections even turn violent, presenting a big setback not only to peace, but to democracy as well. For the past 20 years, USIP has tried to better understand why this happens and how election violence can be mitigated and prevented. While most organizations in the election space do great work in providing technical assistance, by supporting logistical preparations or by making sure that political parties campaign responsibly, USIP takes a different approach.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, participants in this course will be able to:

  • Grasp the scope of election violence as a challenge to peace and democracy;
  • Identify structural risks and triggers of election violence before, during and after election day;
  • Understand the range and utility of various approaches to promote peaceful elections;
  • Design holistic strategies including the full array of early prevention and crisis management tools aimed at preventing election-related violence; and
  • Recognize the logic and test the effectiveness of international, national and local interventions.

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Chapter 1 - Foundations of Election Violence Prevention

This chapter introduces election violence as a peacebuilding challenge, with concrete country examples, and highlights commonly used prevention approaches.

Chapter 2 - Conflict Analysis and Early Warning: Root Causes and Risk Assessment

This chapter introduces structural drivers and triggers of election violence, and commonly used analytical frameworks.

Chapter 3 - Early Prevention

This chapter identifies upstream or early prevention approaches.

Chapter 4 - Violence Mitigation and Crisis Response

This chapter introduces short-term prevention options to mitigate risk or quickly intervene where election violence is imminent or ongoing.

Chapter 5 - Measuring Effectiveness and Evaluating Impact

This chapter discusses the importance of measuring effectiveness and evaluating impact.

Course Instructors

Instructor and Guest Experts


Jonas Claes

Jonas Claes

Policy Officer | European External Action Service


Guest Experts

  • Tonis Montes | Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace
  • Jumaina Siddiqui | Director, United States Institute of Peace
  • Bhojraj Pokharel | Former Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of Nepal
  • Gabrielle Bardall | Gender Advisor, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Kathleen Kuehnast | Director, United States Institute of Peace
  • Larry Garber | Senior Technical Advisor, Digital Mobilizations Inc
  • Vasu Mohan | Regional Director, Asia Pacific, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Juan Diaz-Prinz | Senior Expert, United States Institute of Peace
  • Ruben Grangaard | Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace

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