Conflict, Violence and Security

The effects of insecurity, violence and conflict are devastating. Violence kills, maims and displaces people, reinforces inequalities and creates barriers to economic and human development. IDS’ work provides a nuanced and realistic understanding of the relationship between violence, conflict, security and development with the aim of helping policymakers, practitioners and citizens build peace, prevent conflict and reduce poverty.


IDS research and policy analysis focuses on the politics and governance of conflict, violence and security. Our research programmes examine multiple layers and contexts in which violence manifests – from household to state and global level – and pin point the links and overlaps between these layers.

The Conflict Violence and Development research cluster in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team analyses how people live and interact in contexts of conflict and violence, and which institutions best support them. The cluster uses research findings to develop policies and practices that strengthen people’s efforts to secure their own lives and livelihoods.

The Governance team leads research on security, organised crime and the governance of violent conflict and peace-building at multiple levels, from the local to the transnational. This work contributes to more effective policies for mitigating violence and improving the functioning of political institutions responsible for security and the management and prevention of conflict.

The Participation Power and Social Change team has a pedigree of pioneering work on expanding citizen action in violent contexts. Their research shifts the analysis of fragility and chronic violence from one focused on the state to a more citizen-centred perspective. Their research on gender-based violence focuses on the power of collective action to change attitudes, norms and behaviours.

The KNOTS team focuses on the dynamics of policy processes around conflict, violence and security examining the key framing and narratives. The research focuses on non-traditional forms of security, especially linked to water, energy, food and health as well as post conflict and state building issues affecting service delivery and livelihoods. The encounter between global governance security development concerns, local kinds of knowledge and security brokers, and the role of emerging powers is central to our analysis.

IDS manages the Households in Conflict Network which brings together researchers interested in the micro level analysis of the relationship between violent conflict and household welfare.

In addition, IDS hosts the Addressing and Mitigating Violence programme which is funded by the UK Department for International Development. This flagship programme will generate practical policy options for states and citizens so they can better address and mitigate violence in both rural and urban settings.

IDS also hosts the Global Drug and Development Policy Roundup, which brings together researchers and policy-makers from across the world to address the nexus between illicit drugs, drug policy and drug-trafficking, on the one hand, and socioeconomic development, human rights and citizen security on the other.

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Alia Aghajanian PhD student

Alia Aghajanian - PhD student

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Photo of Becky Mitchell

Becky Mitchell - Research Officer - Conflict, Violence and Development Cluster

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Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team

Cathérine Müller - Marie Curie Postdoctoral Researcher

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Photo of David Leonard

David Leonard - Visiting Fellow

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Photo of Fiona Wilson

Fiona Wilson - Visiting Fellow

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Photo of Freida M'Cormack

Freida M'Cormack - Research Officer

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Photo of Allister McGregor, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research fellow

J. Allister McGregor - Research Fellow

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Photo of Jaideep Gupte, Research Fellow with Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

Jaideep Gupte - Research Fellow

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Jean Pierre Tranchant is a Research Fellow with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

Jean-Pierre Tranchant - Research Fellow

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Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow

Jeremy Allouche - Research Fellow

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Jeremey Lind is a Research Fellow with Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

Jeremy Lind - Research Fellow

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Photo of Julia Hamaus

Julia Hamaus - Gender Convenor

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Photo of Lyla Mehta

Lyla Mehta - Research Fellow

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Photo of Marika Djolai, DPhil Student with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team

Marika Djolai - DPhil Student

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Governance research, Markus Schultze-Kraft

Markus Schultze-Kraft - Research Fellow

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Photo of Martin Greeley, IDS Research Fellow

Martin Greeley - Research Fellow

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Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

Patricia Justino - Team Leader and Research Fellow

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Rajith Lakshman photo

Rajith Lakshman - Research Officer

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Photo of Robin Luckham

Robin Luckham - Research Associate

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Photo of Roger Williamson

Roger Williamson - Visiting Fellow

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Changing Livelihoods in Darfur Since 2005

Assessing current livelihood strategies and options available to vulnerable communities living in Darfur. More details

Community Cooperation in Post-Conflict Bosnia

This project will investigate what determines the level of community cooperation in the post-conflict period. More details

Households in Conflict Network

Undertaking collaborative research into the causes and effects of violent conflict at the household level. More details

Improving access to livelihoods, jobs and basic services in violent contexts

Expanding access to work and services, such as public utilities and safe and reliable transportation, are important elements of any approach to strengthen security in poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

Karimojong Citizen Research

Young researchers in northern Uganda have been probing questions posed by their own communities. From December 2012 to November 2013, they have been using action research techniques to investigate land, peace and justice in Karamoja, a post conflict society. Their findings, shared with community leaders and local government, have shed light on a fundamental problem of a society in transition out of decades of violence. More details

Large development investment and local peacebuilding in rural Africa: building and sustaining peace at the margins’

The project examines the factors influencing local peace-building under different structures of local governance in northern Kenya and in Sierra Leone. More details


A five-year research programme, taking an innovative micro level, multidisciplinary approach to studying the conflict cycle. More details

Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency

The 'Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency' (PVCA) project is an action research project designed by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and carried out with a number of institutional partners. More details

Quantifying the Impact of Women’s Participation in Peace Building

Review existing evidence on the importance of women’s activities in local peace-building processes, and on the impact of policy interventions aimed at supporting the social, economic and political roles that women play in peace-building processes. More details

State Fragility and Rural Development

This project for the GIZ considers the specific challenges posed by state fragility in selected countries (Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nepal and Bolivia) to inform the agency's development cooperation strategy. More details

Strengthening core state functions to mitigate and prevent different manifestations of violence

In the context of exploring the dynamics and logics of violence and responses to it by the state and the international community, Nigeria and Sierra Leone make interesting case studies. These case studies are part of the Addressing and Mitigating Violence programme, which focuses on 'newer' forms of violence and organised crime as well as the changing dynamics of long-standing situations of violence More details


Training and Mobility Network for the Economic Analysis of Conflict (TAMNEAC) is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme. More details

Tomorrow Today: Development Frontiers in an Insecure World: International Security and the Implications for Development

Development has long been linked with security. However, in recent years development and security have been linked in new ways. These new ties reflect changing conceptualisations of threats originating from aid-recipient contexts in an interdependent world and the expectation that development should help to prevent the spread of these risks. More details

UN MONUSCO/World Bank DRC Consultancy

The primary objective of the consultancy is to support the development of a coordinated approach to monitoring and evaluation for the Peace Consolidation programme (PCP) in DRC. More details

Women in Local Peacebuilding Research

Documenting the role of women in local peacebuilding, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More details

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PB71 Front Cover

Tackling Urban Violence in Mumbai and Cape Town through Citizen Engagement and Community Action

Urban violence is an urgent and growing problem in many cities across the world. It comes in a multitude of forms such as gender-based violence, gangs and drug-related violence, police violence, religious riots, vigilante groups, and others. More details

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Understanding ‘Urban Youth’ and the Challenges they face in Sub-Saharan Africa: Unemployment, Food Insecurity and Violent Crime

Much of Africa is urbanising fast and its young population is projected to constitute the largest labour force in the world. While urbanisation can be linked closely with economic development, we also know that it is the least developed countries that have younger populations than the rest of the world. More details

ER77 Front Cover

Cross-border Violence as an External Stress: Policy Responses to Cross-border Dynamics on the Border between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia

One of the key issues identified in the new policy literature on external stress is the incidence of cross-border violence and the current lack of efficient and permanent mechanisms supported by international organisations, governments and civil society to deal with the violence. More details

ER72 Front Cover

Getting Real About an Illicit ‘External Stressor’: Transnational Cocaine Trafficking through West Africa

Concerns over West Africa’s increasingly prominent role as transhipment point of South American cocaine en route to Europe are mounting. More details

ER71 Front Cover

Roots and Routes of Political Violence in Kenya’s Civil and Political Society: A Case Study of Marsabit County

Struggles to influence the balance of power and the distribution of economic resources in Kenya have a long history of violence: national and local, actual and threatened, physical and psychological. More details

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 7 Front Cover

Addressing Sexual Violence in and beyond the 'Warzone'

Conflict-related sexual violence remains pervasive across the globe, and its widespread use has been reported in Rwanda, Liberia, Northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. More details

This is the cover to IDS Research Report 78, '‘It May Approach as Quickly as a Bushfire': Gendered Violence and Insecurity in South Sudan'.

'It May Approach as Quickly as a Bushfire': Gendered Violence and Insecurity in South Sudan

This research report presents the findings of case study research in Eastern Equatoria State in South Sudan, carried out within the Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency (PVCA) programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

How does state fragility affect rural development?

International development agencies are focusing increasingly on fragile and conflict-affected states and the challenges they are facing in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More details

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Key Challenges of Security Provision in Rapidly Urbanising Contexts: Evidence from Kathmandu Valley and Terai Regions of Nepal

We know that urban violence not only affects people’s health and wellbeing, it has a devastating impact on the social fabric and economic prospects of entire cities. It can also set recursive cycles of vulnerability in motion – violence-affected individuals find it increasingly harder to be gainfully employed, while poverty is sustained through inter generational transfers. More details

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On a Wing and a Prayer? Challenges for Reducing Armed Violence

Most deaths due to violence now occur outside traditional conflict settings. In these contexts, violence is complex and often hard to understand, linked to a variety of conditions, situations and trends which are deeply embedded and difficult to shift without considerable investment, contextual knowledge and risk. More details

PB62 Front Cover

The Underside of Political Settlements: Violence in Egypt and Kenya

Understanding political settlements is important for addressing and mitigating violence. This policy briefing is based on case studies from Egypt and Kenya which confirm that political settlements that only focus on formal actors and spaces at the national level are crucially flawed. More details

ER68 Front Cover

Addressing and Mitigating Violence: Uptake Strategy, Year Two Update

The overarching purpose of the Addressing and Mitigating Violence (AMV) theme is to generate useful analysis to tackle policy dilemmas relating to ‘newer’ forms of violence and organised crime. More details

PB60 Front Cover

External Stresses in West Africa: Cross-border Violence and Cocaine Trafficking

The 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security and development highlights the centrality of ‘external stresses’ for generating insecurity and increasing the risk of violence in fragile areas. West African states are particularly vulnerable, with serious concerns around cross-border violence and illicit drug-trafficking. More details

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Beyond the New Deal: Global Collaboration and Peacebuilding with BRICS Countries

Development in fragile and conflict-affected contexts is both complex and contested. The New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States, endorsed by 35 countries and six organisations, is the current focus of efforts to harmonise aid approaches. More details

PB57 Front Cover

Policing Urban Violence: Lessons from South Asia

As densely populated urban centres emerge as economic powerhouses where global GDP is concentrated, they are also increasingly vulnerable to shocks of violence and insecurity. More details

ER 57 Front Cover

Settling After the Revolts? Egypt’s Political Settlements and Violent Transition

The uprisings in the Arab region generated much hope among significant proportions of the population that a rupture with the status quo would herald a new era marked by bread, freedom and social justice/human dignity, the catchphrase of many of the revolts. More details

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 48, 'Undercurrents of Violence:
Why Sierra Leone’s Political Settlement is not Working'.

Undercurrents of Violence: Why Sierra Leone’s Political Settlement is not Working

Debates over violence, security, humanitarian and development imperatives have long been polarised. More details

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