VIOLENCE PREVENTION

Violence Prevention (IUVP) Programme-

A trust- and relationship building programme

IUVP is founded on intersectoral approaches such as the Public Health Approach (PHA), the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) and the Human Security Approach (HSA)). The focus is on creating coalitions of intersectoral leaders as agents of change, while also working on creating citizen agency for change. IUVP’s interest is centred around reducing the risk of violence and reducing at-risk groups’ vulnerability by strengthening their agency for resilience and agency to fight violence before it occurs. IUVPs focus is consequently on before-the-violent-act approaches as opposed to after-the-act approaches, which tend to have a victim/survivor focus. IUVP interventions work with evidence-based violence prevention from the various participating sectors’ different mandates and explicitly prioritize creating and strengthening alliances and networks and establishing direct communications lines and relations between local police, local government authorities, private sector and CSOs. IUVP addresses all types of violence and their interrelations.

MHPSS

It has been increasingly recognized by researchers and practitioners that reducing the levels of urban violence requires a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach. Therefore, the programme draws on intersectoral approaches, combining traditional criminal justice system measures with evidence-based crime control and preventive public health strategies.

Public Health Approach (PHA)

The PHA is a good starting point for violence prevention because it focuses on before-the-act and is intended to integrate efforts to identify and address root causes and risk factors that may produce violence. Also, it helps to develop a focus on the characteristics that decrease the likelihood of a person becoming victim or a perpetrator of violence.

The approach is evidence-based as it produces evidence on what works in violence prevention, based on data. The PHA builds on knowledge about risk and protective factors associated with violence. The model explores the relationship between individual, relational, social, cultural and environmental factors and thus considers interpersonal violence as the outcome of multiple influences on behaviour. It comprises four steps:

  1. What is the problem? – It defines the violence problem through systematic data collection;
  2. What are the causes? – It explores causes by identifying risk and protective factors and researching who it affects;
  3. What works and for whom? – It designs, tests and evaluates prevention interventions to establish what works and for whom;
  4. Ensures widespread adoption by scaling up the most effective and promising interventions, while at the same time assessing impact and cost-effectiveness1.

Other benefits of the PHA is the development of a learn-as-you-go approach so that acquired knowledge can be built upon, which corresponds to the complexity leadership theory. Also, the approach encourages early interventions and inclusive working relationships with affected communities. Finally, the approach has proven to be useful when changing public attitudes and beliefs related to unsafe lifestyles2.

Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights describes the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) as follows:

A Human Rights-Based Approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. It seeks to analyze inequalities which lie at the heart of development problems and redress discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede development progress”

In violence prevention, the HRBA identifies at-risk groups as rights-holders and national authorities as duty bearers3. The approach works in parallel tracks:

Towards strengthening capacities of right holders to make their claims and toward building the capacities of duty bearers to meet their obligations” (Kjaerulf & Barahona 2010: 386).

The HRBA stresses a need to create strategies to bridge the gap between the actors by facilitating meetings at the middle ground. It focuses on promoting human dignity through the development of claims and social and political accountability. It stresses active, free, and meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders in society, and by building on non-discrimination,

It seeks to empower excluded and vulnerable groups in its quest to create socially guaranteed improvements in policy, including but not limited to legal frameworks” (Kjaerulf & Barahona 2010: 386).

Concretely, the HRBA provides international standards and norms, identifies citizens entitlements and state obligations explicitly, and can improve capacity building and mobilization in national prevention programs and policies. To prevent violence, any committed stakeholder must enter into legitimate dialogues with governments on the rights conferred by international conventions, such as freedom from torture, the right to life, and the right to physical and mental health, when governments have undertaken the obligations to respect these rights4.

Human Security Approach (HSA)

The HSA prioritizes the security of people. The approach directs attention to individuals rather than the state, as the state is often perceived as threatening rather than protecting its own population. There is a focus on safety from repression and protection from violence. HSA builds on human rights and democratic principles that enable people to participate in governance and require the strengthening of democratic institutions to establish the rule of law.

The HSA “entry point for violence prevention is prioritizing and addressing insecurities produced by violence to attain a higher degree of protection and empowerment of populations facing risks and dangers” (Kjaerulf & Barahona 2010: 387).

Human security means protecting people from critical and pervasive threats and situations, building on their strengths and aspirations. It creates systems that give people the building blocks of survival, dignity and livelihood. It offers two mutually reinforcing strategies: a top-down protection strategy and a bottom-up empowerment strategy.

Protection shields people from danger, and human security helps identify gaps in the infrastructure of protection and ways to strengthen or improve it. Empowerment enables people to develop their potential and become full participants in decision making” (Kjaerulf & Barahona 2010: 388).

IUVP specifically applies a Human Security approach at dialogues workshops and meetings where duty bearers and right holders are invited. The approach seeks to strengthen bottom-up participation driven strategies by including civil society and the private sector in local governance to ensure that the initiatives respond to local needs. At the same time, the approach is top-down protection-driven when strengthening the state’s protection infrastructure, norms, processes and institutions. In such way, law enforcement and local government work together to protect citizens against insecurities and reduce the gap between partially dysfunctional state institutions and international human rights standards5.

Evidence-based Guiding principles for IUVP - The seven World Bank principles

IUVP interventions rely on the World Bank’s seven main findings that provide the basic conditions for urban violence prevention6:

  1. There is a need to create the basic conditions for collective action: A minimum of security must be provided, while the underlying drivers of violence must be addressed.
  2. There is a critical need to rebuild community trust: This must be done by sending clear signals that the current situation will change and ensuring a minimum of basic security. This allows people to work collectively and will create a social environment in which people feel it is worthwhile to trust one another and work together. It is vital to address the issues that people in communities perceive to be driving the problem, most often the lack of viable livelihoods and employment opportunities, especially for youth.
  3. There should be a focus on building better relationships between state institutions, especially police, and the communities they serve. Among affected communities there is generally a desire for a kind of policing embedded in trust and coordination with the community.
  4. This creates a foundation for addressing the trend toward extra-legal, private security solutions.
  5. The World Bank study furthermore indicates the need to address the relationship among different forms of violence. This is particularly directed towards domestic violence and more public expressions of violence.
  6. Furthermore, the study recommends orientations for supporting community capacities for preventions. This includes improving the built environment, which is essential for creating the necessary conditions for collective action in affected communities.
  7. Finally, there is a need for improving the data collection and mechanisms. This can provide communities with accurate information on violence to empower community actions.


Evidence-based conditions - The five conditions for collective action

The focus of IUVP is to bring sectors together to achieve collective impact. Collective impact has gained tremendous momentum as a disciplined, cross-sector approach to solving social and environmental problems. Collective impact is the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. The complex problems cannot be solved by any single organization or sector alone. Cross-sector perspectives can improve collective understanding of the problem and create a sense of mutual accountability. The five conditions of collective impact, developed and described by John Kania and Mark Kramer in 20117, are echoed in the IUVP program as factors that contribute to more successful urban violence prevention and help resolve conflicts more cooperatively.

The five conditions of Collective impact (Kania, and Kramer, 2011, SSIR)

Common agenda

All participants share a vision for change that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving the problem through agreed-upon actions.

Shared measurements

All participating organizations agree on the ways success will be measured and reported, with a short list of common indicators identified and used for learning and improvement.

Mutually reinforcing activities

A diverse set of stakeholders, typically across sectors, coordinate a set of differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.

Continuous communication

All players engage in frequent and structured open communication to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.

Built-in rechargeable lithium‑ion battery

An independent, funded staff dedicated to the initiative provides ongoing support by guiding the initiative’s vision and strategy, supporting aligned activities, establishing shared measurement practices, building public will, advancing policy, and mobilizing resources.

Concretely, the conditions are integrated throughout the entire IUVP program.

Place-based Leadership Development (P-BLD)

P-BLD is a specifically developed evidence-based Local Leadership Development Program and a Co-facilitator Program that effectively develops and permits scale up of local intersectoral leadership coalitions able and willing to work together across state and non-state sectors.

These evidence-based leadership and facilitator development programs turned out to be ‘the missing link’ that turns accumulated capacity building of partners and their networks into cross sector collaborative state – non-state action. At the heart of the Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention is the need to establish effective and efficient intersectoral collaboration, in terms of creating dialogue, coordination, trust and effective mechanisms for collaboration between sectors, such as law enforcement, a wide range of government authorities, local civil society and the private sector.

IUVP has since 2016 been merged with P-BLD. P-BLD has been found relevant as it provides a coherent evidence-based framework for collective leadership capability building. P-BLD suggests that if traditional and non-traditional leaders from both state and non-state sectors are to work effectively as peace builders, they need to share the same lived experiences. Building strong and effective partnership requires capability and capacity building amongst state and non-state actors. Merging P-BLD with IUVP helps leaders in violence prevention to deal with clashes of mindsets and intersectoral tensions and embedded conflicts that can cause territorial approaches to urban violence prevention and peace building to fail.

Once relationship-building and initial trust-building has created some basic conditions for collective action across relevant sectors, e.g. by establishing engagement platforms with intersectoral representation and continuous communication, leader and leadership development has proven to be a catalyst for intersectoral collaboratives able and willing to work across sectors in urban violence prevention8.


1 Kjaerulf & Barahona. Preventing violence and reinforcing Human Security – a rights-based framework for top-down and bottom-up action. Rev Panam Salud publica 2010: 387

2 Ibid.

3 Kjaerulf & Barahona 2010: 386

4 Ibid.

5 Kjaerulf and Barahona 2010: 387

6 The World Bank study on Violence in the City 2011

7 Kania and Kramer, Collective impact, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011.

8 Worrall and Kjaerulf, Transforming minds, people and places: Leadership coalition building as catalyst for intersectoral collaboratives in urban violence prevention, Aggression and violent behavior. 47 (2019), 282-292


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