11 Dec 2013
"R2P in Practice": Ethnic Violence, Elections and Atrocity Prevention in Kenya

The 4 March 2013 elections in Kenya were the country's first since the widespread violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election shocked the world. The 2007-2008 post-election violence lasted two months, during which time 1,133 Kenyans were killed, while over 600,000 were driven from their homes. In keeping with R2P, international actors responded swiftly to halt the violence and Kenya is now widely cited as the first successful example of "R2P in practice."

This Occasional Paper examines the causes of widespread ethnic violence in Kenya during 2007 and explores why the country was able to avoid similar violence during the March 2013 election. In particular, it focuses on the range of reforms implemented by the Kenyan government, often with international assistance, between 2008 and 2013. The paper seeks to explain how and why particular preventive efforts succeeded in Kenya in 2013 and what that means for the future of the Responsibility to Protect.