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.

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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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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

Scaling-Up Early Child Development Interventions in Rwanda

This project aims to establish a long-term partnership between the IDS, Save the Children UK (SCUK) and Save the Children International Rwanda (SCI-R) to analyse, evaluate and scale-up (in partnership with the Government of Rwanda) a unique holistic programme (First Steps) that supports families of children aged 0-3 in the district of Ngororero in Rwanda. 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

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 Habitat III: Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

Addressing security and inclusion in cities as universal issues, at this side-event we will focus on 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

Understanding Drivers of Conflict and Fragility in Pakistan

Under this consultancy, Patricia Justino will (i) co-lead, with the Bank team, research and authorship for a background paper (and related publications) on drivers of conflict and fragility in Pakistan. More details

Understanding Implications of Household Risk and Social Protection in the Afghan Context of Conflict and Fragility

Patricia Justino will (i) co-lead research and authorship for a background paper (and related publications) on household risk, behaviour, and policy options in the Afghanistan context of conflict and, (ii) for a social safety net impact evaluation, contribute to instrument design, analysis, and interpretation of results, especially with respect to conflict-related issues. More details

VAWG Helpdesk Programme Evaluation Support to Accountable Security and Justice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

This project aims to improve access to security and justice institutions for Women and to strengthen accountability of the security services at the level of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Interior. 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

Womens Economic Inequality and VAWG consultancy

In this consultancy, Marinella Leone is developing evidence to support arguments and recommendations made in the ActionAid report exploring the interlinkages between women’s economic inequality/ neoliberal policies and Violence against women and girls (VAWG). More details

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Youth Engagement in the Realm of Local Governance: Opportunities for Peace?

IDS Working Paper 508 (2018)

An interest in young people has gained significant traction in both policy and academic circles over the past ten years, partly informed by the correlations between ‘youth bulges’ and large numbers of unemployed youth and a country’s instability. More details


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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