Inclusive Approaches to Violence Reduction, Peacebuilding and Governance

A key insight driving a wide range of policy decisions in conflict and post-conflict contexts is that inclusive approaches to governance, mobilization and problem-solving are necessary to prevent or reduce violence, promote peaceful behavior and outcomes, and ensure more equitable and prosperous societies. However, most struggle to define inclusiveness or articulate how it operates. Inclusiveness, as a strategy, has not yet received rigorous and sustained scholarly attention.

To better understand whether and when inclusive strategies reduce violence and contribute to peacebuilding and governance, we need improved data resources, especially at the meso- and micro-levels, and focused case studies that carefully trace the meanings and operation of inclusion and how it affects political processes. Our research program aimed to produce the data necessary to rigorously evaluate the links between inclusiveness and violence reduction in a range of conflict-affected contexts and settings.

Project Partner

The program was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of its "Rigor and Relevance Initiative" aimed at improving the transfer of research and expertise between higher education and the policy world in the area of global affairs. 

Project Aims

In addition to collecting quantitative and qualitative data on inclusion, this project aimed to cultivate a scholarly research community around inclusion and strengthen linkages between academics and policymakers, including activists in business and civil society. 

Research Team

  • Deborah Avant, Professor, and Sié Chéou-Kang Chair
  • Marie Berry, Assistant Professor
  • Erica Chenoweth, Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard University
  • Cullen Hendrix, Professor
  • Oliver Kaplan, Associate Professor
  • Tricia Olsen, Associate Professor (Daniels College of Business)


  • Policy Papers

    Patrick PiersonWhen Strangers Come to Town: A New Way of Thinking About South Africa's 'Xenophobia' Problem

    October 2017
    Much has been written about the prevalence of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa. Despite an abundance of theories and proffered explanations, violence persists. Departing from prevailing analyses, I suggest that purported xenophobic events are overdetermined and manifest under conditions of contested social belonging and permissive opportunity structures; this is not unique to xenophobia, but anticipates collective violence more broadly across contexts, countries, and cultures.

    Lee Cotton and Cassy Dorff, The Mexican Criminal Conflict: The Government's Response to an Evolving Crisis

    June 2016
    Our research employs a network analysis approach to confirm other analyses that suggest Calderón's deployment of 10,000 soldiers and nationwide employment of federal police did not eliminate the four primary cartels, but instead caused them to fracture into more volatile organizations, increasing competition between armed groups and elevating violence against civilians.

    Marie Berry and Trishna RanaBarriers to Women's Progress After Atrocity: Evidence from Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina

    June 2016
    War can sometimes open unexpected opportunities for women to increase their political mobilization. Yet how is this mobilization maintained? We explore the processes that have emerged to undermine or limit women's mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Despite the change war precipitated in women's lives, the domestic state, international actors, and patriarchal structures complicated and restricted women's gains. 

    Steven Zech  UNGASS 2016 and Drug Policy in America

    March 2016
    In April 2016 a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) will convene to evaluate system-wide UN drug policies. Current policies have had little impact on efforts to lower drug production, to curtail drug usage, or to reduce the negative social and public health effects.

    Oliver Kaplan and Natalie SouthwickWalls as a Nonviolent Strategy in Armed Conflict

    October 2015
    Whether constructed and enforced by state institutions, international organizations, or civilian groups, walls are more than physical barriers. Their social significance reinforces their physical presence and they can therefore be powerful symbols that demarcate physical, political, social, and humanitarian boundaries. While they can keep populations safe, they can also reinforce divisions between them.

    Erica Chenoweth and Laura DuganRepressive Efforts are Consistently Counterproductive in Reducing Al-Qaeda Inspired Violence against Canadians

    August 2015
    When the Canadian government adopts a more conciliatory posture toward ending terrorism, we see that the number of violent incidents toward Canadians declines. This analysis provides evidence for the notion that carrots, rather than sticks, may be effective tools in the continuing fight against violent extremism.

  • Books

    Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence. 2019. Edited by Deborah Avant, Marie Berry, Erica Chenoweth, Rachel Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk, Oxford University Press.