Written Evidence Submitted by Search for Common Ground


  1. Search for Common Ground is pleased to have the opportunity to submit written evidence to the committee in support of its efforts to strengthen the UK government’s approach to atrocity prevention.  Search for Common Ground (Search) is one of the largest organizations dedicated to transforming conflict around the world, with offices in more than 30 countries.  Search was founded 40 years ago on the principle that while conflict is normal and inevitable, violence is not, and that through productive engagement and dialogue violent conflict can be avoided, transformed and resolved. 


  1. Mass atrocities represent a persistent and widespread threat to human rights and the safety and wellbeing of civilian populations around the world, the impacts of which often reverberate well beyond the immediate contexts in which they occur.  We strongly support the FCDO efforts to develop more robust mechanisms to identify atrocity risks and prevent mass atrocities is critical to create a safer and more stable world, and in turn a safer and more stable UK. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and global leader, the UK is especially well placed to take a leading role in atrocity prevention around the globe.


  1. Our recent atrocity prevention work in Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen,  demonstrates the critical role that robust, locally rooted and integrated atrocity prevention mechanisms and systems can play in identifying and averting risks of mass violence and developed - these are key areas for any effort to rework the UK’s approach to atrocity prevention, including strengthening early warning and early response systems, building local capacities to monitor for early warning signs at the community level, and adequately fund local organizations and embed those capacities within communities


  1. We support the development of a National Atrocity Prevention Strategy with clear protocols for communication on how to monitor imminent warning signs, triggering moments, indicators and risk factors; when and how to raise the alarm – both across government and externally – and guidance on escalation, a robust atrocity prevention analysis mechanism to facilitate intelligence collection and collation, analysis, and sharing of appropriate information across Government departments. We support the establishment of an atrocity prevention “seat” at the policy-making table to maximise and coordinate contributions towards effective prediction and prevention across Government. Quick, efficient coordination across the atrocity prevention architecture is critically important for rapid response.


  1. We emphasize the need for coordination and communication with civil society organizations and networks.  Local, community and wider civil society actors contribute everywhere to the prevention of identity-based violence and mass atrocities on a daily basis, whether by adopting practices and strategies to avoid escalation, employing self-protection strategies, or establishing their own response systems and using transitional justice approaches to heal communities in the aftermath of violence. Sustainable change and effective prevention require joined up, horizontal coordination, moving towards an integrated – and inclusive – understanding of collaboration. A commitment to civil society should also include investment in the UK’s domestically-based atrocity prevention civil society and internationally active civil society groups working on atrocity prevention, as these organisations are already plugged into community networks of early warning; and this is where expertise of national specificities of policy, culture, and capabilities lie.


  1. We ask that any atrocity prevention program or mechanism integrate the understanding that the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from identity-based violence. This means cross-departmental communication, analysis and action must include the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office in order to support as well as collaborate with members of diaspora and other communities impacted by mass violence.