Analyzing specific countries, we want to figure out why violence did not escalate despite high potential to do so, focusing in particular on the role of the security apparatus. The first case study will be used to help us develop and refine our expectations on why this might be the case. These expectations will be put to the test in additional case studies later in the project. 

Chile's transition from repressive military regime to secure democracy

In our first case study we focus on a country that experienced widespread repression, also perpetrated by irregular forces, but then managed to establish good human rights records and that did not suffer from an armed conflict for at least a decade. We use Chile as our case study since it suffered extensive repression under Pinochet, but then turned into a democracy with good human rights records and, particularly compared to its neighbours, low crime rates.

In the 1988 referendum, the Chilean electorate voted against extending Pinochet's role as president and in 1989 Patricio Aylwin of the Concertación was elected president. Why did the military not step in to turnover the outcome of the referendum or the elections? Why did the division among society between pro- and anti-military supporters not lead to violence between them? How did the shadow of the military shape the behaviour of the new government?  What compromises were made, for example on how to treat previous human rights violations, to avoid a resurgence of violence?

We will look for answers to such questions during our research in Chile in October 2015.