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Warning about War

By Chiara De Franco, Christoph Meyer and Florian Otto

The 2021 annual ISA best book award has gone to CWS co-director Chiara De Franco and her co-authors Christoph Meyer and Florian Otto. The book explores the impacts and persuasiveness of warnings issued by intelligence services, media professional and NGOs in four recent conflicts. By investigating why some warnings are more impactful than others, the book offers novel insights into the study of conflict prevention and the understanding of persuasion in foreign policy. 

Recent years have seen a proliferation of mechanisms aimed at warning international actors of impending violence and conflict with the goal of facilitating early response, thereby mitigating violence and preventing atrocities.

However, as Meyer, De Franco and Otto demonstrate in their important new book, warnings about impending conflict vary in their persuasiveness and impact. In exploring the persuasiveness and impact of early warnings about conflict, Meyer De Franco and Otto shed light on essential questions for both international relations scholars and practitioners about why some warnings are more persuasive than others, prompting swift international responses to prevent conflict while other warnings are less impactful.

Drawing on meticulous research the book unearthed new evidence on the nature of warnings provided to governments and international officials in advance of four recent conflicts. By shifting the focus of study to the warnings themselves, the book offers a fresh analysis of prominent failures of conflict prevention, for example in Darfur and Rwanda, and in doing so provides important insights for policy-makers.

This is a vital contribution for conflict studies, foreign policy analysis and, indeed, studies in communication in international politics. Accessible and well-written, even when it is delving into very difficult topics, this book offers novel insights into the study of conflict prevention and provides an important tool for future practice.

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