A Public-Health View on the Prevention of War and Its Consequences

  • Joop T. de Jong


Political violence, armed conflicts, and human-rights violations are produced by a variety of political, economic, and sociocultural factors. Conflicts can be analyzed in an interdisciplinary way to obtain a global understanding of the relative contribution of risk and protective factors. A public-health model is presented to address these risk factors and protective factors. The model results in a matrix that combines Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary interventions with their implementation on the levels of the Society-at-large, the Community, the Family, and Individual. Subsequently, the risk and protective factors are translated into multi-sectoral, multi-modal, and multi-level preventive interventions involving the economy, governance, diplomacy, the military, human rights, agriculture, health, education, and the media. After this classification, the interventions are fitted in their appropriate place in the matrix.

The interventions can be applied in an integrative and eclectic way by international agencies, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and moulded to the requirements of the historic, political-economic, and sociocultural context. The framework maps the complementarities between the different actors, while engaging themselves in preventive, rehabilitative, and reconstructive interventions. The framework shows how the economic, the diplomatic, the political, the criminal justice, the human rights, the military, the physical and mental-health sectors, and the rural development sectors can collaborate to promote peace or prevent the aggravation or continuation of violence. A major increase in understanding is needed of the relations between risk and protective factors and of the developmental pathways of generic, country-specific, and culture-specific factors leading to political violence.


Conflict Resolution Security Council Armed Conflict Political Violence Child Soldier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Addison, T. (2000). Aid and conflict. In F. Tarp (Ed.), Foreign aid and development: Lessons learnt and directions for the future (pp. 329–408). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Asia Watch & Physicians for Human Rights (1991). Land mines in Cambodia: The coward’s war. New York/Boston.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, P. H., & Ausink, J. A. (1995). State collapse and ethnic violence: Toward a predictive model. Parameters, 26 (1), 19–36.Google Scholar
  4. Balla, E., & Yannitell-Reinhardt, G. (2008). Giving and Receiving Foreign Aid: Does Conflict Count? World Development, 36 (12), 2566–2585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bannon, I., & P. Collier (Eds.). (2003). Natural resources and violent conflict: Options and actions I. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  6. Beyrer, C., Villar, J. C., Suwanvanichkij, V., Singh, S., Baral, S. D., & Mills, E. J. (2007). Neglected diseases, civil conflicts, and the right to health. Lancet, 370, 619–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict (1997). Preventing deadly conflict: final report. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation.Google Scholar
  8. Collier, P. (2009). Wars, guns and votes. Democracy in dangerous places. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  9. Collier, P., Elliott, V. L., Hegre, H., Hoeffler, A., Reynal-Querol, M., & Sambanis, N., (2003). Breaking the conflict trap: Civil war and development policy. World bank policy research report. Washington: World Bank and Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Davenport, C., & Stam, A. (2004). Understanding genocide through time and space. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from
  11. De Jong, J. T. V. M. (Ed.) (2002). Trauma, war and violence: Public mental health in socio-cultural context. New York: Plenum-Kluwer.Google Scholar
  12. De Jong, J. T. V. M. (2010). A public health framework to translate risk factors related to political violence and war into multilevel preventive interventions. Social Science and Medicine, 70, 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deutsch, M. (1983). The prevention of WW-III: A psychological perspective. Political psychology, 4, 3–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Esty, D. E., Goldstone, J. A., Gurr, T. R., Surko, P. T., & Unger, A. N. (1995). Working papers: State failure task force report. November 30.Google Scholar
  15. Farmer, P. (2003). Pathologies of power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. California: University of California press.Google Scholar
  16. Ghobaraha, H. A., Huthb, P., & Russettc, B. (2004). The post-war public health effects of civil conflict. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 869–884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Girard, R. (1976). Deceit, desire and the novel. trans. Yvonne Freccero. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hegre, H., Sambanis, N. (2006). Sensitivity analysis of empirical results on civil war onset. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50 (4), 508–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hewitt, J. (2008). Trends in global conflict, 1946–2005. In: J. Hewitt, J. Wilkenfeld, T. Gurr, T. (Eds.), Peace and conflict 2008. Boulder: Paradigm Publisher.Google Scholar
  20. Hobfoll, S. E. (1998). Stress, culture and community: The psychology and philosophy of stress. New York: Plenum PressGoogle Scholar
  21. Janis, I. (1982). Victims of groupthink (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  22. Kleinman, A., Das, V., Lock, M. (1997). Social suffering. Berkley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lim, M., Metzler, R., Bar-Yam, Y. (2007). Global Pattern Formation and Ethnic/Cultural Violence. Science, 317, 1540–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Machel, G. (1996). Impact of armed conflict on children: Report of the expert group of the secretary general. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  25. Murdock, J. C., Sandler, T. (2002). Economic growth, civil wars, and spatial spill-overs. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 46 (1), 91–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Murray, C. J. L., Lopez, A. D. (1997). Alternative projections of mortality and disability by cause 1990–2020: Global burden of disease study. Lancet, 349, 1498–1504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Orbinski, J., Beyrer, C., & Singh, S. (2007). Violations of human rights: Health practitioners as witnesses. Lancet, 370, 698–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pedersen, D. (2002). Political violence, ethnic conflict, and contemporary wars: Broad implications for health and social well-being. Social Science and Medicine, 55, 175–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pinderhughes C. A. (1979). Differential bonding: Toward a psychophysiological theory of stereotyping. American Journal of Psychiatry, 136, 33–37.Google Scholar
  30. Pinstrup-Andersen, P., & Shimokawa, S. (2008). Do poverty and poor health and nutrition increase the risk of armed conflict onset? Food Policy, 33, 513–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rodrik, D. (2007). One economics, many recipes. Globalization, institutions, and economic growth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Reynal-Querol, M. (2005). Does democracy pre-empt civil wars? European Journal of Political Economy, 21, 445–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., & Gray, J. A. et al. (1996). Evidence-based medicine: What it is and what it isn’t. British Medical Journal, 312, 71–72.Google Scholar
  34. Sarason, S. B. (1974). The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology. Washington, DC: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  35. Staub, E. (1993). The roots of evil: The psychological and cultural origins of genocide and other forms of group violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Staub, E. (2003). The psychology of good and evil: why children, adults and groups help and harm others. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stewart, F., Cindy, H., & Michael, W. (2001). Internal wars: An empirical overview of the economic and social consequences. In: F. Stewart & V. Fitzgerald (Eds.), War and underdevelopment – Volume 1: The economic and social consequences of conflict (pp. 67–103). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. U.S. Committee on Prevention of Disorder (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  39. Van Boven, T., Flinterman, C., Grünfeld, F. & Westendrop, I. (Eds.) (1992). Seminar on the rights to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Maastricht: University of Limburg.Google Scholar
  40. World Health Organization (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VU University Medical Center and Boston University School of MedicineAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations