Interest in conflict prevention blossomed throughout the 1990s, and so did the literature on the subject. Moreover, conflict prevention is rapidly becoming a prominent focus of the new global security and global governance agenda with advocacy of preventive policies by international and regional organizations and nongovernmental actors, and the implementation of conflict prevention within many longterm development and post-conflict assistance programs. Nevertheless, the question of how to move from the rhetoric of conflict prevention to one of institutionalized practice still remains the major concern. Following an overview of conflict prevention in historical and contemporary perspective, this article surveys some of the major themes currently found in the literature on conflict prevention. While there are still skeptical views on the viability, legality and effectiveness of conflict prevention, some significant strides have already been taken in the direction of creating a new normative international climate that permits increasingly the implementation of preventive action.