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How to Warn: ‘Outside-in Warnings’ of Western Governments about Violent Conflict and Mass Atrocities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198
Number of pages216
JournalMedia, War & Conflict
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2016
Accepted/In press6 May 2016
E-pub ahead of print21 Jul 2016
PublishedAug 2016


King's Authors


The literature on the warning-response gap in conflict prevention over-emphasizes political will as the crucial variable, whereas warning is not considered problematic. The paper makes the case for distinguishing more clearly signs and indications from actual warnings. Furthermore we argue that the quality of warnings matters to achieving at least partial persuasive success with decision-makers. We identify key factors limiting or enhancing warning impact, focusing on source credibility, message content and communication mode. We argue that warning communicators need to take credibility problems more seriously, invest more time in identifying, understanding and building relationships with the most relevant recipients, and tailor warnings accordingly in terms of content, timing and communication mode. If organizations lack the capacity to provide credible prescriptions on how to act, they should concentrate on high quality reporting to enhance rather than damage their credibility.

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