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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Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team 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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ER219_FrontCover

Equality, Security and Sustainability: In Search of Virtuous Circles

IDS Evidence Report 219 (2017)

Many people and institutions are conducting research on inequality, security, or environmental sustainability. Some are looking at two of these issues together. None, to our knowledge, are examining all three simultaneously, or looking in detail at the interactions between them. This matters. More details

PB140_FrontCover

Improving Employment Opportunities for Formerly Displaced Youth in Northern Uganda

IDS Policy Briefing 140 (2017)

The national youth (persons between 18 and 30 years of age) unemployment rate in Uganda currently stands at 19.7 per cent, and a significant proportion are returned, formerly displaced youth, displaced as a result of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) civil war in the northern part of the country. More details

ER217_FrontCover

Where is the Money? Donor Funding for Conflict and Violence Prevention in Eastern Africa

IDS Evidence Report 217 (2017)

In 2014, Kenya and Uganda were two of the top three recipients of official development assistance in Africa. The funding focused on education, health care, infrastructure, entrepreneurship development, HIV/AIDS treatment, conflict prevention and relief from natural crises such as droughts, famines or earthquakes. More details

PB128_FrontCover

Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

IDS Policy Briefing 128 (2016)

Half of humanity now lives in urban areas, and a growing number of cities are leading the way in generating global GDP. However, cities have increasingly become key loci of violence over the last 50 years, which particularly affects the most marginalised. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Is Regional Autonomy a Solution to Ethnic Conflict? Some Lessons from a Dynamic Analysis

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy 22.4 (2016)

Does granting regional autonomy to concentrated minorities appease their demand for sovereignty or instead motivate and enable them to engage in secessionist conflicts? To answer this question is difficult as moves towards federalism and decentralization are themselves the results of strategic interactions between the state and the minorities. More details

ER210_FrontCover

Violence and Violence Reduction Efforts in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Ivory Coast: Insights and Lessons towards Achieving SDG 16

IDS Evidence Report 210 (2016)

This report develops evidence-based insights into contextual dimensions of violence and practices on reducing violence, from multiple perspectives and at multiple levels of governance. More details

ER205_FrontCover

The UN at 70, and the UK. Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Action, and Peace and Security: Lessons from Experience and Policy Recommendations

IDS Evidence Report 205 (2016)

2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the UN, a good moment for reflection about the strengths, weaknesses and priorities for change needed in the world’s most all-embracing international organisation which had already existed for over three times longer than the League of Nations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind: Seven Key Pathways to Actualising the Principles of the New Urban Agenda

This paper serves as a background note for the Habitat III side-event ‘Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind’. It brings together research and practice to understand how well-managed urbanisation can revitalise urban spaces that had either been lost to violence or suffered from a lack of access to basic services and neglect. More details

Non-IDS publication

Fragmentation, conflict, and competition: Islamist anti-civilian violence in sub-Saharan Africa

Terrorism and Political Violence (2016)

This journal article seeks to explain the variation of patterns of anti-civilian violence across and within violent Islamist groups operating in sub-Saharan Africa. More details

This is the font cover to IDS Working Paper 474, 'Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency: A Colombian Case Study'.

Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency: A Colombian Case Study

IDS Working Paper 474 (2016)

In a situation of longstanding and complex violent conflict in Buenaventura, Colombia, we used action research to explore with social activists what power, violence, citizenship and agency mean to them and how they experience and exercise citizen agency in relation to the violence. More details

ER198_FrontCover

The Violent Politics of Informal Work, and How Young People Navigate Them: A Conceptual Framework

IDS Evidence Report 198 (2016)

This report explores the linkages between young people’s economic engagement and their social and political engagement in contexts of violence in Africa. More details

ER197_FrontCover

Reducing Violence in a Time of Global Uncertainty: Insights from the Institute of Development Studies Addressing and Mitigating Violence Programme

IDS Evidence Report 197 (2016)

This Evidence Report details key insights from the Institute of Development Studies Addressing and Mitigating Violence programme, which involved detailed political analysis of dynamics of violence as well as efforts to reduce and prevent violent conflict across a number of countries and areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. More details

PB122_FrontCover

Reducing Violence in a Time of Global Uncertainty

IDS Policy Briefing 122 (2016)

The new Sustainable Development Goal to reduce armed violence is a welcome commitment but the prescriptive nature of its approach is problematic – there is ‘no one size fits all’. Rather, focus needs to be on how violence operates in particular settings. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Dialectics of Urban Form and Violence

IDS Bulletin 47.2 (2016)

Violence is increasingly a defining characteristic of urban living in both conflict and non-conflict settings. This has important consequences for the relatively under-researched links between urban violence, the processes of state building, and wider development goals. More details

ER188_FrontCover

Beyond Borders: The End of the Mano River War(s)?

IDS Evidence Report 188 (2016)

The Mano River sub-region, which includes Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire, has experienced decades of violent upheavals and political instability. This notably includes civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. More details

ER186_FrontCover

Addressing and Mitigating Violence: Uptake Strategy, Year Four Update

IDS Evidence Report 186 (2016)

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

ER183_FrontCover

Black Sands, Green Plans and Conflict: Structural Adjustment, Sectoral Reforms and the Mining–Conservation–Conflict Nexus in Southern Madagascar

IDS Evidence Report 183 (2016)

This report is a policy analysis of international investments in Madagascar’s natural resources at the thematic intersection of extractive development, land reform, environmental preservation and conflict. More details

ER122_FrontCover

Therapeutic Activism: Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda Breaking the Silence over Male Rape in Conflict-related Sexual Violence

IDS Evidence Report 182 (2016)

Men’s experiences as victims of sexual and gender-based violence remain little recognised in research, policy or practice. Mainstream narratives generally continue to depict men as perpetrators of violence and women as victims. More details

Non-IDS publication

The Effects of Protracted Conflict and Displacement on Citizen Engagement in Northern Uganda

Conflict, Security and Development 16.1 (2016)

This demonstrates the need for a clear understanding of the continued fragility of citizenship after violent conflict More details

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