Preventing Identity-Based Violence

A key focus of our work is bringing together individuals and organizations seeking to prevent a spectrum of identity-based violence, from hate crimes and structural discrimination through to the commission of mass atrocities. Identity- whether race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation remains an underlying factor used to justify violence in many contexts. Hateful and divisive narratives exacerbate these fault lines and are linked to widespread violence between communities.

With the rapid spread of digital platforms, like social media, our world is more interconnected than ever before. Ideologies of fear, hatred, and division spread quickly and easily across geographies and speech is becoming weaponized. Over time, dangerous rhetoric infiltrates the public narrative and creates fear and division along identity lines, normalizing the idea that in the face of threat, targeted violence is acceptable, inevitable, and even essential.

To reduce the risk of identity based violence Thought Partnerships identifies, seeds, and supports civil-society led networks in and across diverse contexts. We connect networks to each other, to effective tools, and to a wider network of technical experts.

In recent years our community of practitioners have noted a sharp uptick amongst leaders and influential personalities in democratic countries taking on hostile, divisive, and fear mongering rhetoric in their public speeches and policies. In the wake of their vitriol more overt space has been created for extremist, polarizing, and divisive narratives to be publicly vocalized and openly shared.

Based on this ongoing trend, our network of practitioners has expanded considerably from an initial focus on countries at imminent risk of mass violence to include organizations working in contexts like the United States, United Kingdom, and across Europe where different forms of speech - whether verbal, written, coded language, symbol, or song- are being used to shape public perceptions, proliferate hate, and seed divisions between groups. This is notable in the rise of hostility toward refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers as well as in the persistence of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Previously held norms of inclusivity, pluralism, non-violence, and civility appear to be eroding while incidents of hate crimes and targeted violence are increasing.