Increasingly aware of the risk of strife presented by elections in countries affected by conflict, governments and civil society need more effective approaches to prevent election-related violence. The U.S. Institute of Peace conducts research, training and fieldwork to develop evidence that will improve knowledge in this field and inform initiatives such as codes of conduct developed by police and elections officials to avert violence. USIP’s Academy also conducts extensive training and education on election violence prevention in Africa.
Plagued by successive coups and waves of violent conflict since its independence in 1960, the Central African Republic managed to hold its first peaceful elections in late 2015 and early 2016. Fears of widespread violence proved unfounded. This report focuses on what went right in those elections and how those conditions have not held a year later, allowing violence to return to the country.
In many countries, elections are a flashpoint for violence. Far too often, programs designed to prevent election violence are based on intuition instead of evidence, or efforts concentrate solely on logistical or technical support on election day. When prevention efforts fail and violence erupts, officials may respond with a counter-productive crackdown, citizens lose trust in the ability of government and the rule of law to protect them, and years of development efforts are reversed.
Electing Peace: Violence Prevention and Impact at the Polls examines election violence prevention and assesses the effectiveness of different prevention practices—which are effective, which are not, and under what circumstances.