Ideally, steps can be taken to prevent violence before it starts. Once it starts, violence tends to escalate quickly, and stopping it (and preventing its recurrence) becomes much more difficult. So prevention is by far superior when it is possible.
In order to prevent violence, both the disputing parties and potential intervenors must understand
- The Causes of Violence that are present in many violent conflict situations,
- Early Warning Indicators that illustrate the degree to which those causes are present in any particular situation, and
- Violence Prevention Steps that can be taken to reverse or eliminate the triggers before violence does break out.
In addition, if violence has already occurred, practitioners need:
- Violence-Limiting Tools that can be used to try to stop the violence from escalating,
- Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Strategies that can be used to settle the conflict so that further violence does not occur, and lastly,
- Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Strategies to diminish the likelihood that violence will re-emerge at a later time.