Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

Department

Medicine

First Advisor

Kaveh Khoshnood

Subject Area(s)

Public health, International law, Medicine

Abstract

Violence presents a significant public health threat to society. Every year, over 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified collective violence as one of the most egregious threats to human health. The WHO defines collective violence as "the instrumental use of violence by people who identify themselves as members of a group - whether this group is transitory or has a more permanent identity - against another group or set of individuals, in order to achieve political, economic or social objectives." Episodes of collective violence include wars, terrorism, and state-perpetrated violence, such as genocide.

The international community currently lacks a global surveillance mechanism to rapidly identify, document, and report widespread violence. The goals of this project include: (1) design a global early warning system for large-scale human rights violations; (2) utilize credible, scientific data collected by medical and public health experts to document the violence; and (3) ensure that medical evidence gathered by on-site investigators is provided to the International Criminal Court in order to hold the perpetrators of collective violence accountable.

A global surveillance network combined with on-site investigations by medical professionals would provide an effective early warning system for outbreaks of collective violence. This information may be utilized for informing the international community about large-scale human rights violations, galvanizing political support for direct engagement, and designing effective interventions.

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