Nonviolent Action Lab – Interrupting Mass Killings

A pressing challenge in humanitarian policy is how to stop mass killings once they start. Recent research findings evaluate the various policy instruments available to prevent, respond to, and de-escalate mass atrocities. Two panelists will review lessons from historical and comparative cases that can help to illuminate the strengths and limitations of such policy instruments.

In-Person Event

David Ellwood Democracy Lab R-414-AB
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Register Here *For individuals with a Harvard ID only


A pressing challenge in humanitarian policy is how to stop mass killings once they start. Recent research findings evaluate the various policy instruments available to prevent, respond to, and de-escalate mass atrocities. Two panelists will review lessons from historical and comparative cases that can help to illuminate the strengths and limitations of such policy instruments.

This event is co-sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

About the Speakers

Erica Chenoweth (moderator) is the Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement and the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard Kennedy School, Faculty Dean at Pforzheimer House at Harvard College, and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. They study political violence and its alternatives. At Harvard, Chenoweth directs the Nonviolent Action Lab, an innovation hub that provides empirical evidence in support of movement-led political transformation. Chenoweth has authored or edited nine books and dozens of articles on mass movements, nonviolent resistance, terrorism, political violence, revolutions, and state repression. Their recent book, Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2021), explores what civil resistance is, how it works, why it sometimes fails, how violence and repression affect it, and the long-term impacts of such resistance. They also recently co-authored On Revolutions (Oxford, 2022), which explores the ways in which revolutions and revolutionary studies have evolved over the past several centuries. Their next book with Zoe Marks, Bread and Roses: Women on the Frontlines of Revolution, investigates the impact of women’s participation on revolutionary outcomes and democratization. Chenoweth maintains the NAVCO Data Project, one of the world’s leading datasets on historical and contemporary mass mobilizations around the globe. Along with Jeremy Pressman, Chenoweth also co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium, a public interest and scholarly project that documents political mobilization in the U.S. since January 2017. Foreign Policy magazine ranked Chenoweth among the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013 for their efforts to promote the empirical study of nonviolent resistance. Chenoweth is a recipient of the Karl Deutsch Award, which the International Studies Association gives annually to the scholar under 40 who has made the greatest impact on the field of international politics or peace research. In 2022, Chenoweth was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Chenoweth’s book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia, 2011) with Maria J. Stephan won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order and the 2012 best book award from the American Political Science Association. Chenoweth’s research has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The Economist, The Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, Ms. Magazine, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, TEDxBoulder, The Hidden Brain, and elsewhere. They co-founded the award-winning online magazine Political Violence @ a Glance and write occasionally for The Monkey Cage channel at The Washington Post. Their research has been supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the United States Institute of Peace, USAID, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, among others. At Harvard, Professor Chenoweth is a faculty affiliate at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and the Women in Public Policy Program. They are also a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, where Chenoweth and Zoe Marks co-chair the Political Violence Workshop. Before coming to Harvard, Chenoweth taught at the University of Denver and Wesleyan University. They hold a Ph.D. and an M.A. in political science from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in political science and German from the University of Dayton.

Jessica Stanton is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University.  Her research focuses on international relations, including the causes, dynamics, and resolution of civil wars; the role of international institutions and law in international relations; and criminal accountability for wartime violence and terrorism. Her book, Violence and Restraint in Civil War: Civilian Targeting in the Shadow of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016), examines why some governments and rebel groups engaged in civil war adopt strategies that involve the deliberate targeting of civilians, while other groups, in accordance with international humanitarian law, refrain from attacking civilian populations. Violence and Restraint in Civil War received the International Studies Association’s award for the best book on international studies published in 2016 as well as the Lepgold Book Prize, awarded by the Mortara Center for International Studies at Georgetown University for the best book on international relations published in 2016. Professor Stanton’s research has also been published in International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Journal of Politics, and the Oxford Handbook of Terrorism. Before joining Temple, Professor Stanton was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania.  She has also held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, and the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics at the University of Pennsylvania.  Professor Stanton received her Ph.D. in political science with distinction from Columbia University and her B.A. in international relations with distinction from Stanford University.

Lawrence Woocher is research director for the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. He has published widely on early warning, conflict prevention, and the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. He previously served as senior atrocity prevention fellow with the United States Agency for International Development, research director for the Political Instability Task Force at Science Applications International Corporation, senior program officer at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and a consultant to the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. He is a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and a graduate of Brown and Harvard Universities.