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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View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


This is the image for the brief, 'Key Challenges of Security Provision Rapidly Urbanising Contexts: Offender and Police Experiences from Kathmandu Valley and Terai Regions of Nepal'.

Key Challenges of Security Provision Rapidly Urbanising Contexts: Offender and Police Experiences from Kathmandu Valley and Terai Regions of Nepal

Briefing (2014)

Rapidly urbanising Nepal and youth unemployment present challenges to security provision. More details

PB71 Front Cover

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

IDS Policy Briefing 71 (2014)

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

IDS publications on international development research

The Impact of Conflict on Poverty

This rapid review provides an overview of the latest evidence on the impact of conflict on poverty. More details

ER81 Front Cover

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

IDS Evidence Report 81 (2014)

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

ER81 Front Cover

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

IDS Evidence Report 81 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 77 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 72 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 71 (2014)

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'

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 7 (2014)

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

IDS publications on international development research

Costs of Peace Processes

This report provides an overview of evidence on the costings of various core components of peace processes. The information uncovered by this rapid review focuses mainly on the latter stages of a peace process and the core components of supporting the success of the peace process. 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

IDS Research Report 78 (2014)

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

IDS publications on international development research

Non-food Items (NFIs) and the Needs of Women and Girls in Emergencies

Emergencies disrupt daily life and often cause the displacement of populations, with the loss of many of their possessions. More details

PB61 Front Cover

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

IDS Policy Briefing 61 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 62 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 68 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 60 (2014)

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

PB59 Front Cover

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

IDS Policy Briefing 59 (2014)

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

IDS publications on international development research

Intellectual Disabilities in Humanitarian Assistance Policy and Practice: The Need to Consider the Diversity Within Disability

This chapter examines the consideration and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in humanitarian assistance policy and practice. While this chapter will touch on many issues faced by all people with disabilities, there is a need to recognize the diversity within disability to ensure interventions are responsive to everyone’s needs, with ‘one size fits all planning unhelpful in overcoming discrimination’. More details

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