A comprehensive framework approach to prevention: report

21 October 2017
Issued by
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence
At the 72nd session of the GA


In 2015, as part of a series of reports on each of the pillars of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur presented to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly two reports on the (not so frequently employed) notion of guarantees of non-recurrence (A/HRC/30/42 and A/70/438).

In those reports, he argued that the best way to understand the notion of guarantees of non-recurrence was in terms of prevention, and attempted to shed light on some of the conceptual difficulties that characterized the notion, as well as to give some structure to the discussions about such guarantees in practice.

In the meantime, interest in prevention has picked up strongly, not least as a result of the emphasis the new Secretary-General has placed on it. In his first briefing to the Security Council, the Secretary-General observed: “We spend far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them. People are paying too high a price … We need a whole new approach”, and proceeded to state that for him: “Prevention is not merely a priority, but the priority.”


In the light of the ongoing reform initiatives of the United Nations to place prevention at the centre of the Organization’s work, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence proposes the development of a substantive, comprehensive framework approach to prevention, some elements of which he outlines in the present report.

This report is meant as a contribution to the ongoing discussions about prevention. In it, the Special Rapporteur argues in favour of a framework approach to prevention from the perspective of a mandate concerned with the promotion of human rights in situations in which such rights have been massively violated. A framework approach will contribute to breaking existing silos of knowledge and expertise, which hamper effective preventive work, and will help to widen the scope and to “upstream” prevention (something as frequently praised as it is rarely practised) in a systematic and orderly way. In this sense, the approach is a planning tool that also has the potential to shed light on important links between prevention, human rights and sustaining peace.