One in five elections worldwide is marred by violence—from burned ballot boxes to violent suppression of peaceful rallies, to assassinations of candidates. A USIP study of programs to prevent violence suggests focusing on improving the administration and policing of elections. The study, of elections in Kenya and Liberia, found no evidence that programs of voter consultation or peace messaging were effective there.

Governments and international organizations invest in many programs—youth engagement, election observation, police training, and civic education—to help poorly governed states or developing democracies hold credible elections. USIP’s new report, “What Works in Preventing Election Violence,” is a piece of the evidence needed to learn which programs work and which do not. Elections experts from Kenya, Liberia and leading U.S. pro-democracy institutions reviewed the findings of this report against their own experiences. Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #ElectingPeace.


Pat Merloe 
Senior Associate and Director for Election Programs, NDI

John Tomaszewski
Africa Director, IRI

Joshua Changwony
Deputy Executive Secretary, Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO, Kenya) 

Oscar Bloh 
Chairman, Elections Coordination Committee (ECC, Liberia)

Inken von Borzyskowski
Assistant Professor, Florida State University

Jonas Claesfacilitator
Senior Program Officer, Center for Applied Conflict Transformation, USIP

Debra Liang-Fenton, facilitator
Senior Program Officer, Center for Applied Conflict Transformation, USIP

Related Publications

What Works in Preventing Election Violence

What Works in Preventing Election Violence

Monday, October 22, 2018

By: Jonas Claes; Inken von Borzyskowski

Drawing on extensive field research in Kenya and Liberia around the 2017 elections in those countries, this report uses local survey data to evaluate the effectiveness of seven prevention measures thought to reduce the risk of election violence. Its recommendations, directed primarily to the international community but offering...

Electoral Violence

Participatory Action Research for Advancing Youth-Led Peacebuilding in Kenya

Participatory Action Research for Advancing Youth-Led Peacebuilding in Kenya

Thursday, October 11, 2018

By: Illana M. Lancaster; Sahlim Charles Amambia, Felix Bivens, Munira Hamisi, Olivia Ogada, Gregory Ochieng Okumu, Nicholas Songora, Rehema Zaid

One-third of today’s generation of youth—those ages ten to twenty-four—live in fragile or conflicted countries and are susceptible to the sway of ideological narratives of violent extremism. Evidence suggests, however, that they also play active and valuable roles as agents of positive and constructive change.

Youth; Education & Training; Democracy & Governance; Violent Extremism

Secretary Tillerson Goes to Africa

Secretary Tillerson Goes to Africa

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

By: USIP Staff; Susan Stigant; Aly Verjee

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the most extensive visit to Africa by a senior official in the Trump administration. Tillerson will visit the continent’s two most populous countries, Nigeria and Ethiopia, both crucial to U.S. regional security interests but which face increasing fragility at home. He will also travel to U.S. allies Chad, Djibouti and Kenya, countries struggling with domestic political stability, and will meet leadership of the continent’s principal regional organization, the African Union. USIP’s Africa experts preview the landscape and key issues for the East Africa leg of Tillerson’s trip to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya, and note that broader U.S security and trade interests can only be served if the national challenges for peace and stability in each country are also addressed.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

View All Publications