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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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


GSDRC provide high quality, timely knowledge products to support international development planning, policymaking and other activities area. This includes a document library, a research helpdesk and email bulletins 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


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

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IDS publications on international development research

Intellectual Disabilities, Violent Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance: Advocacy of the Forgotten

Disability & Society 28.6 (2013)

This article examines the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities in violent conflict who have been neglected in practice and academia. Such invisibility, combined with the disabling impact of society, their low priority, and the nature of their impairments, results in a disproportionately negative impact of conflict on people with intellectual disabilities. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Two Faces of Security in Hybrid Political Orders: A Framework for Analysis and Research

International Journal of Security & Development 2.2 (2013)

This paper reframes the security and development debate through fresh theoretical lenses, which view security as highly contested both in the realm of politics and in the realm of ideas. More details

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Churning Waters: Strategic Shifts in the Nile Basin

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 4 (2013)

This briefing considers the impact of the diplomatic rift between Egypt and Ethiopia in the Nile Basin on broader development in the region and the possible diplomatic and developmental scenarios that could emerge as construction of the GERD dam progresses. More details

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Unemployment, Service Provision and Violence Reduction Policies in Urban Maharashtra

IDS Evidence Report 17 (2013)

This report analyses the relationship between violence and economic vulnerability among urban populations in the Indian state of Maharashtra. More details

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Addressing and Mitigating Violence: Uptake Strategy

IDS Evidence Report 16 (2013)

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

Non-IDS publication

Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys

Published by the World Bank, this report extensively reviews current practices and datasets used in micro-level surveys of conflict-affected populations. We review existing conflict- and violence-related questionnaires, with a special focus on the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys. More details

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Battling with Increased Gender-Based Violence in Egypt’s Transition: Report on the Scoping Workshop held in Cairo, November 2012

IDS Evidence Report 10 (2013)

This report is about a scoping workshop held by the Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA). More details

Front cover for Global Drugs Round Up Event Briefing June 2013

Bringing Development In: Tackling the negative effects of illicit drugs and drug policy on development

This Event Briefing explores why the development community has not engaged with the negative effects of illicit drugs and drug policy on development, and makes recommendations on how it can work more closely with the drug policy community to address these effects. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 5, 'Nigeria's Post-1999 Political Settlement and Violence Mitigation in the Niger Delta' by Markus Schultze-Kraft.

Nigeria's Post-1999 Political Settlement and Violence Mitigation in the Niger Delta

IDS Evidence Report 5 (2013)

Almost fifteen years after transitioning to civilian-electoral rule, Nigeria is still wrestling with the legacy of a protracted period of military government and the ‘resource curse’ associated with its huge oil wealth. More details

Image Teaser for IDS Policy Briefing 35 'Elites, Oil and Violence Mitigation in the Niger Delta'

Elites, Oil and Violence Mitigation in the Niger Delta

IDS Policy Briefing 35 (2013)

The crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria is one of the world's forgotten conflicts in which thousands have been killed and the country’s vital oil industry has suffered. More details

This is the image for 'A New Deal? Development and Security in a Changing World'

A New Deal? Development and Security in a Changing World

Development policy and practice in fragile and conflict-affected areas needs to be rethought. A growing proportion of aid budgets is going to fragile and conflict-affected states and conflict prevention is becoming an important focus of aid spend even in countries that are not affected by widespread violence. More details

This is the image for the report summary, 'A New Deal?
Development and Security in a Changing World'.

A New Deal? Development and Security in a Changing World

IDS Research Summary (2013)

A growing proportion of aid spending now goes into conflict-affected states and conflict prevention. As a result, development and security are increasingly intertwined and this inter-relation is hotly debated. More details

This is the image for IDS Bulletin 44.1, 'Piecing it Together: Post-Conflict Security in an Africa of Networked,
Multilevel Governance'.

Piecing it Together Post-conflict Security in an Africa of Networked, Multilevel Governance

IDS Research Summary (2013)

How should the various institutions responsible for human security be reconstructed in African states faced with violent conflict? More details

This is the image for IDS Bulletin 44.1, 'Piecing it Together: Post-Conflict Security in an Africa of Networked,
Multilevel Governance'.

Piecing it Together: Post-Conflict Security in an Africa of Networked, Multilevel Governance

IDS Bulletin 44.1 (2013)

How do, could and should institutions responsible for security and the management of conflict in Tropical African societies respond to violent conflict? More details

This is the image for IDS Bulletin 44.1, 'Piecing it Together: Post-Conflict Security in an Africa of Networked,
Multilevel Governance'.

The Dynamics of Restraint in Côte d'Ivoire

IDS Bulletin 44.1 (2013)

This article aims to understand, in the context of the civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, how and why ‘islands of peace’ emerge during outbreaks of violence. More details

Non-IDS publication

Research and Policy Implications from a Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development

HiCN Working Paper 139 (2013)

This working paper authored by Patricia Justino for the Households in Conflict Network (HiCN) reviews the literature concerning the micro-elements of citizen agency in situations of armed conflict. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Understanding security in the vernacular in hybrid political contexts: a critical survey

Conflict, Security and Development 13.3 (2013)

In this article we propose two alternative yet interrelated definitions of security, which jointly encapsulate its dual and contested nature. More details

Non-IDS publication

Remittances and Labour Supply in Post-Conflict Tajikistan

IZA Journal of Labor & Development 1.8 (2012)

Published in the IZA Journal of Labor & Development, this article analyses the impact of remittances on the labour supply of men and women in post-conflict Tajikistan. More details

Non-IDS publication

Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States

This paper reviews and discusses available empirical research on the impact of violent conflict on the level and access to education of civilian and combatant populations affected by violence. More details

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