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.

Youths with panga knives, bows and arrows and corrugated metal shields clash on the streets of Nakuru. Ethnic violence sparked last December following protests against disputed election results, after suspected vote rigging by Kikuyu President Mwai Kibaki. Copyright: Frederic Courbet/PANOS

IDS research examines the multiple layers and contexts in which violence manifests – from household to state and global level – and pin points the links and overlaps between these layers. We seek to understand how people live and interact in contexts of conflict and violence, and which institutions best support them.

Our research findings are used to develop policies and practices that strengthen people’s efforts to secure their own lives and livelihoods and improve the functioning of political institutions responsible for security and the management and prevention of conflict.

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

Another focal area is the dynamics of policy processes around conflict, violence and security examining the key framing and narratives. Our 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.

Our work on this conflict, security and violence forms part of a broader IDS focus on building inclusive, secure societies.

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.

To recieve regular updates on our work, subscribe to our Conflict, Security and Violence e-newsletter

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Photo of Becky Mitchell More details

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Gauthier Marchais, Research Fellow in the Conflict and Violence research cluster at IDS More details

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

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‘Seeing’ Conflicts at the Margins: Understanding Community Experiences Through Social Research and Digital Narrative in Kenya and Madagascar

In a context of unprecedented investment in natural resource developments, this project bridges the social sciences, the humanities and community-based participatory research to ask how different ‘communities’ of actors ‘see’ and experience resource conflicts in Kenya and Madagascar. We use social science alongside a variety of participatory multimedia methods to open up conflict research to more diverse framings and voices, which can offer new insights on the drivers of resource conflict and pathways to peace. More details

A Mobile Training Platform for Urban Policing in India and Nepal

The aim of this project is to develop training videos for urban police that can be accessed via mobiles. This kind of platform allows the videos to be centrally updated, accessed (or ‘pushed’) on demand, and also allow for an innovative addition to police performance monitoring. More details

Advisor for the World Development Report 2017

Prof. Patricia Justino is working on the World Development Report 2017 as an advisor to the lead author of the chapter on "Security, Conflict and the Absence of Violence", as well as producing a background paper for the WDR chapter. More details

Cities, Violence and Order

Cities have long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also as central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Community Based Peace Processes in Myanmar

Since 2013 Danny Burns has been working with Stephen Gray and Josephine Roos on systemic approaches to peace in Northern Myanmar. The work is rooted in community perspectives on the issues that face local people in Kachin and Northern Shan State. 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

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Research Hub

This project supports and facilitates high-quality research, exchange of ideas, relationship-building and networking among the scholarly and practitioner community working in countering violent extremism (CVE) in Kenya. The CVE Research Hub will serve as a centre of excellence in research on policy, practice and theory in Kenya More details

Democratisation, Decentralisation, Local Governance: IDS-SDC Collaboration

The aim of this third phase of cooperation between IDS and SDC is to share learning and collaborate on policy engagement in priority areas of decentralised and democratic local governance. More details

Disadvantaged Groups and Social Mobility

Bruno Martorano and Patricia Justino will analyse group-based inequalities in Mexico and write a paper on the topic of ‘The impact of the recent crisis in Mexico on economic and political inequalities among minorities’ that discusses and advances an argument about patterns and trends. More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

Fighting Over Land: Theory and Empirical Evidence from Colombia

The aim of this project is to develop a research agenda on the long-term effect of civil conflict on institutions, particularly on land tenure structure, in Colombia. More details

Food Security, Gender Equality and Peace-Building: Theoretical Framework and Future Agendas

IDS researchers have been commissioned to generate knowledge and evidence-based, actionable recommendations to governments and other stakeholders on the nexus between support to food and nutrition security and building resilient livelihoods, peace processes and stability, and how to integrate gender issues into appropriate policies and actions related to food and nutrition security in situations where conflict exists, has recently ceased, or is likely to reoccur. More details

Futures Workshop on Cities, Violence and Order: The Challenges and Complex Taxonomy of Security Provision in Cities of Tomorrow

Cities have for long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Gender Based Violence in the Gaza Strip After Israeli Operation 'Protective Edge’

The proposed research attempts to contribute to our knowledge of VAW incidence and prevalence as well as responses, coping strategies and mechanisms of support in the five governorates in Gaza 2015. More details

Large-scale resource development at the rural margins: assessing implications for governance, conflict and peacebuilding in Ivory Coast and Kenya

Over three years, this project examined how conflict, local governance and peace-building arrangements in the rural margins of Kenya and Ivory Coast are affected by new, large-scale investments in resource exploitation. More details

MICROCON

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

New and Emerging Forms of Violence Data for Crisis Response: A Comparative Analysis in Kenya

The project will produce a robust evidence base on the opportunities and limitations of social media data on violence reporting to inform UK emergency and crisis response, in the context of violence monitoring in Kenya. More details

Overcoming Violence Through Local Institutions: A Comparative Study of Households and Communities in Colombia

This project will support collaboration and engagement between IDS and the Universidad de los Andes in conducting a unique three-year research programme on the effect of violent conflict on institutional change. More details

Pilot Study to Estimate the Extent of Child Soldiering, Child Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria

This pilot study, funded by ILO, IOM, UNICEF and Walk Free Foundation, aims to estimate the extent of child soldiering and forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery in contexts of armed conflict in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria. 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

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The Role of External Actors in Supporting Social and Political Action towards Empowerment and Accountability with a Focus on Fragile, Conflict- and Violence-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 503 (2017)

This paper explores the role and experience of external actors, particularly donors, in supporting social and political action in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings. More details

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How Can Mining in Côte d’Ivoire Better Serve Local Communities Without Exacerbating Conflict?

IDS Policy Briefing (2017)

Côte d’Ivoire is currently experiencing a mining boom. The country’s growing mining sector is quickly becoming an important source of national income, and could help to finance part of the government’s development agenda in the coming years. Côte d’Ivoire, however, still faces political and security challenges, such as the mutinies that occurred in 2017. More details

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Comment l’exploitation minière en Côte d’Ivoire peut-elle mieux bénéficier aux communautés locales sans exacerber les conflits?

IDS Policy Briefing (2017)

La Côte d’Ivoire connaît actuellement un boom minier. La contribution du secteur minier àl’économie du pays est amenée à croître rapidement. Ainsi, le secteur minier pourrait permettre de financer une partie des projets de développement du gouvernement au cours des années à venir. More details

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Theories of Change for Promoting Empowerment and Accountability in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 499 (2017)

This paper explores the current state of thinking among a range of aid actors (multilaterals, bilateral, applied scholars and international non-governmental organisations) on how to promote empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict and violence affected settings. More details

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Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies

IDS Policy Briefing 146 (2017)

How do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial. More details

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Governance Interventions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries

IDS Working Paper 496 (2017)

The paper reviews an emerging body of literature on the design and evaluation of current or recent governance interventions in countries with ongoing violent conflict, recovering from conflict or at serious risk of conflict. More details

Governing Black Gold: Lessons From Oil Finds in Turkana, Kenya

Oil exploration and appraisal operations have multiplied across eastern Africa over the past decade. This briefing examines lessons from Turkana, Kenya, where oil finds are associated with new conflict risks as well as changes in peacebuilding institutions and relations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Public-Private Collaborations: Can they Deliver Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies?

This paper looks at the role of public-private collaborations, specifically public-private partnerships (PPPs), in enabling secure and inclusive rural economies. More details

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Assessing the Role of Social Media and Digital Technology in Violence Reporting

IDS Working Paper 492 (2017)

The use of social media and digital technologies has radically changed the way that information about violence is captured, reported, analysed and acted upon. People’s use of social media played a significant role in the Egyptian revolution, post-election violence in Kenya, and drug-cartel violence in Mexico. Social media can be used to provide humanitarian agencies, policymakers and academics seeking to understand and respond to violent crises with data unavailable from other sources. More details

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The Impact of Social Media and Digital Technology on Electoral Violence in Kenya

IDS Working Paper 493 (2017)

Electoral violence has become synonymous with Kenya’s elections. This acquired deadly proportions during the 2007 elections. However, it was also during this time that social media and digital technology was first used for political reasons including campaigning and polling. Social media and digital technology had mixed uses where it was not only used to propagate hate speech and mobilise for violence, but also to identify and map out violence hotspots. More details

Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls in Gaza

This working paper presents the findings of a research project on the protection of women against violence in the context of urban humanitarian crises. More details

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The Role of Social and Political Action in Advancing Women’s Rights, Empowerment, and Accountability to Women

IDS Working Paper 488 (2017)

Through the lens of four case studies focused on women’s political participation (Palestine and Sierra Leone), and the passage of domestic violence law (Brazil and South Africa), this paper looks at the role of social and political action in advancing women’s rights. More details

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Innovative Methods for Research on Social and Political Action in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 487 (2017)

Fragile and conflict-affected settings present particular challenges for researchers seeking to study the effect of social and political action (SPA). These challenges are not simply due to prevalent violence and conflict, but contexts of insecurity can restrict the flow of information, key actors can be hard to identify, and if information can be found, vital pieces of the picture may be missing. More details

Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls in Urban Humanitarian Crises: The Case of Gaza

Gaza, a mostly urban and densely populated area, chronically experiences complex emergencies, with bouts of acute violence. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is aggravated by the exposure to ongoing and acute political violence. More details

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How Does Work Feature in Literature on Youth Participation in Violence?

IDS Working Paper 485 (2017)

This paper explores the evidence available on the role of work in youth participation in violence, through a study of recent research and evidence in this field. More details

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The Political Economy of Economic Empowerment: Bringing Politics and Society Back In

IDS Working Paper 484 (2017)

Economic empowerment programmes designed to mitigate inequalities are increasingly becoming an important part of the portfolio for governments in low-income countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Gendered (in)security in South Sudan: masculinities and hybrid governance in Imatong state

Peacebuilding (2017)

Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, many citizens of what is now South Sudan have increasingly felt left behind by their government. More details

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Inclusive Urbanisation and Cities in the Twenty-First Century

IDS Evidence Report 220 (2017)

In academic and policy discourse, urbanisation and cities are currently receiving a great deal of attention, and rightly so. Both have been central to the enormous transformation the world has been going through during the past few centuries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction: security in the vernacular and peacebuilding at the margins; rethinking violence reduction

Journal of Peacebuilding, Special Issue: Security in the Vernacular 5.2 (2017)
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