TraCe Working Paper Series

Working Paper No. 3

The last ten years have seen an emerging debate about targeted violence against social activists, with a focus on the killings of human rights defenders, environmental activists, and representatives of civil society organizations broadly speaking. Whereas violence against civilians in (civil) war contexts is an established field of study, research on this type of violence – which is being observed mainly outside of conventional armed conflict settings in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Honduras or the Philippines is much less developed and rather fragmented. In this TraCe Working Paper, the authors bring together existing data and research to identify what they know – and do not know – about the targeted, lethal violence against civil society activists, including its characteristics and causes. In doing so, they also discuss the question of whether and to what extent this phenomenon can be considered as reflecting a transformation of the (violent) repression of civil society actors. Throughout the paper, the authors draw on cross-national and comparative research on the one hand, and existing studies on the specific case of Colombia on the other, since this is the case for which the best data and most systematic and in-depth research exists. In this paper, though, we are not interested in analyzing the recent wave of assassinations of social activists in Colombia per se, but in discussing insights from Colombia as relevant contributions to the broader, comparative debate.

Albarracín, Juan/Wolff, Jonas (2024): Targeted Violence Against Social Activists. Characteristics, Causes, and Transformations.  Frankfurt/Main, TraCe Working Paper No. 3., DOI:10.48809/PRIFTraCeWP2403.




PRIF Working Paper No. 59 (with TraCe)

Since the 1990s, truth commissions have been installed in post-conflict or post-authoritarian settings to further transitional justice, though the range of situations in which they are established has multiplied over the past two decades. Most recently, settler colonial states have tasked commissions to unravel historical colonial violence and its lasting effects in the present. Canada was the first to do so in 2008 and has since been used as a model for other countries. As this move is comparatively new, there is no exhaustive research on the processes these developments may trigger or new possibilities they may open up. This prompted the interest in the arguments for or against the creation of such a commission in a given public context. The focus of this working paper is on Sweden, because it was the last Nordic state to take this step. In November 2021, likely taking the experiences from its neighbouring countries into consideration, the Swedish government decided to install a truth commission. The aim of this paper was to identify dominant agents that influence the public discourse on the Sámi Truth Commission in Sweden, as well as to understand their demands and arguments.

Ecker, Merle/Mannitz, Sabine (2023): Views about the Sámi Truth Commission: An analysis of public discourse in Swedish media 2008-2023, PRIF Working Papers No. 59, Frankfurt/M, DOI: 10.48809/PRIFWP59 .




Working Paper No. 2

Die Geschichte politischer Gewalt ist zugleich eine Geschichte ihrer Recht­fertigung und Kritik: Seit jeher wird politische Gewalt von Theorien und Prakti­ken ihrer (De-)Legiti­mation begleitet. Das gilt nicht nur für die nationale, sondern auch für die inter- und trans­nationale Politik. Politische Akteure verweisen in ihren Kriegs­rechtfertigungen stets auf Normen der inter­nationalen Ordnung. Das ist aus unserer Sicht Teil des politischen Handelns und keines­wegs, wie häufig behauptet wird, „billiges Geschwätz“. Der Kriegs­legitimations-Diskurs und die internationale Ordnung stehen in einem dialektischen Wechsel­verhältnis. Sie sind ko-konstitutiv. Damit stellt sich zu­gleich die Frage, wie sich im Verlauf der Geschichte das Wechsel­verhältnis von Kriegsrechtfertigungen und inter­nationaler Ordnungsbildung gewandelt hat. Überwiegt hierbei die Wieder­kehr des ewig Gleichen oder lassen sich Brüche identifizieren, die auf eine Trans­formation der internationalen Ordnung verweisen? Dieser Frage gehen wir im vorliegenden Text anhand einer ge­nealogischen Skizze des Verhältnisses von Kriegs­legitimation und internationaler Ordnungsbildung in Geschichte und Gegen­wart nach.

Simon, Hendrik/Brock, Lothar (2023): Transformation(en) der Gewaltrechtfertigung? Zum Verhältnis von Kriegslegitimation und internationaler Ordnungsbildung in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Frankfurt/Main, TraCe Working Paper No. 2., DOI: 10.48809/PRIFTraCeWP2302.


Working Paper No. 1

Political violence in its many forms – from riotous protests to war between states – remains ever-present and has immense moral and political im­plications. However, the overall development of political violence re­mains poorly understood. Examining existing research, authors identify three general po­sitions: political violence has either declined, escalated, or taken different forms. They provide a basic frame­work to better group existing approaches, examine available findings, and to en­able the design of further re­search to better understand the develop­ment of political violence.

Daase, Christopher/Driedger, Jonas/Mannitz, Sabine/Kroll, Stefan/Simon, Hendrik/Wolff, Jonas (2022): Transformations of Political Violence? A Research Program, Frankfurt/Main, TraCe Working Paper No. 1., DOI: 10.48809/PRIFTraCeWP2201.

PRIF Working Paper No. 58 (with TraCe)

Canada is among the settler colonial states that confront their violence history and its present im­plications, inter alia with systematic re­search and evidence based policy recommen­dations: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRCC) of Canada issued a report about its 7-years’ long work in 2015, and the Canadian govern­ment declared the willing­ness to push through what the TRCC recommended as calls to action, to foster post-colonial peace in the country. But what does that actually imply in a country that was built on the deep in­trusions of settler colonialism? How have state institu­tions reacted to the call?

Kopp, Rita Theresa/Mannitz, Sabine (2022): Approaches to Decolonizing Settler Colonialism: Examples from Canada, PRIF Working Papers No. 58, Frankfurt/M, DOI: 10.48809/PRIFWP58.