Forecasting to prevent mass atrocity

Jan 10, 2014 by Kate Mayor

As the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) worsens, researchers from the Atrocity Forecasting Project, including chief investigator Associate Professor Ben Goldsmith from the University of Sydney, argue that models for predicting genocide and politicide could help prevent these instances of mass violence.

The forecasting model, which uses determining factors such as political instability, state-led discrimination, and neighbouring state conflicts, places CAR at the top of its list of at-risk states for genocide/politicide for the period 2011-2015. The forecasts are based on data from years up to 2010, when the project began.

"In the case of the Central African Republic, indicators like changes in the number of soldiers under arms, whether or not there was an election, and the introduction and removal of peacekeeping forces are additional factors that have it at a higher risk", said Associate Professor Goldsmith.

"Our model predicts that this combination of factors can lead to a dangerous and volatile situation in which mass atrocities against civilians are more likely to occur"

The aim of the project, which produces the longest-term predictions of its kind, is to provide an early-warning short list of countries most at risk, that will assist government and non-government bodies in identifying potential mass atrocities while providing enough time for these groups to put preventive measures in place.

"The key thing is that we can give early warning about which societies are most at risk over the coming 5 years," said Associate Professor Goldsmith.

"As far as we know, we are the only ones to rank the Central African Republic as the most at-risk country, or even have it towards the top at all."

Associate Professor Goldsmith and his team have already gained the attention of influential bodies, having given presentations on the forecasting model to relevant policy groups in Washington DC, Berlin, Paris, and Canberra, to a United Nations conference, and the International Crisis Group.

"These are groups who would actually be able to take positive action," said Associate Professor Goldsmith.

In recent months, the UN's Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide has issued a warning regarding CAR, while violence targeted against civilians by both sides in the civil war has continued to grow in scale and brutality.

"The findings of our model justify very close monitoring and diplomatic attention on the countries at highest risk of the sort of violence we are currently seeing in the Central African Republic"

Explore further: Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Health-based approach may help ID groups at risk of genocide

Sep 19, 2011

Researchers from North Carolina State University are proposing a health-based approach to identifying groups at high risk of genocide, in a first-of-its-kind attempt to target international efforts to stop these mass killings ...

Predicting climate-change-related disease in Africa

Nov 22, 2013

It is common knowledge that climate change particularly affects developing countries, but its effects on health are still very hard to predict. In a joint effort to bridge this gap, the QWECI project set ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

8 hours ago

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

8 hours ago

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

9 hours ago

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality

Dec 17, 2014

When designing a new car, manufacturers might try to attract consumers with more horsepower, increased fuel efficiency or a lower price point. But new research from San Francisco State University shows consumers' loyalty ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 10, 2014
I seriosly doubt this. The only thing that can prevent this kinds of murderous events is for local people to move against the murderers. Outsiders putting 'boots on the ground' will do some short term good, but long term, the locals need to change their own societies.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.