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Quaker group releases study on election violence

Photo: / AFSC

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2018

Quaker group releases study on election violence

Groundbreaking study and event connect international practitioners

Nairobi, Kenya: Today the American Friends Service Committee released a study on the causes of electoral violence around the world and best practices for prevention. Prevention of election violence is a major focus of AFSC’s work in the African continent, but increasingly a concern in the United States and other democratic countries across the globe.

“Violence around elections increasingly captures the attention of donors and practitioners, who invest growing resources into enhancing the safety and security of democratic practice around the world,” said AFSC Shared Security Fellow, Charlie Taylor. “There is a gap in scholarship on what makes for good violence prevention strategies around elections. While qualitative research based on interview data is available, we wanted to provide more hard data for interviews and case studies.”

The research shows that electoral violence is more likely when political systems are based on patronage, electoral management bodies are weak, and ongoing conflicts go unresolved. Additionally, international election observation missions may decrease the likelihood of pre-election violence, but can increase the likelihood of post-election violence if they expose attempts at fraud or are seen as partisan.

The study includes best practices for making elections safe, and key findings for donors on where to place additional resources.

“International aid agencies normally fund peace building efforts starting just six months before an election,” says Pauline Kamau, AFSC’s Quaker International Affairs Representative for Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya. “But we need to look at elections as a process and make funding available throughout the whole cycle. It cannot be touch and go. This doesn’t help, because even if people quiet down after an election, the same issues will come back four or five years down the line.”

The study was released at a global Dialogue and Exchange Program hosted in Nairobi July 24-26. Global south leaders—from the grassroots, civil society, and government—come together to learn, exchange ideas, and collectively solve problems through AFSC’s Dialogue and Exchange Program. The organization’s approach to international dialogue and exchange is rooted in the belief that solutions can be found within a group’s history, knowledge, culture, and resources. 

“Efforts to prevent violence are more effective when practitioners have spaces to share their experiences, but spaces for practitioners from different countries and regions to come together have not existed,” said Jason Tower, AFSC Global Quaker International Affairs Representative. “We are holding this global Dialogue and Exchange Program to launch our research findings and to build a platform for practitioners to talk about best practices for making our world more secure.”

The report on election violence can be downloaded here:


The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.