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

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

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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IDS publications on international development research

Hybrid Security Governance in Africa: Rethinking the Foundations of Security, Justice and Legitimate Public Authority

Journal of Conflict, Security & Development 16.1 (2016)

This article asks whether the concept of ‘hybridity’ offers a more convincing account of security governance in Africa than the standard state-focused models. More details


Cities, Violence and Order: the Challenges and Complex Taxonomy of Security Provision in Cities of Tomorrow

IDS Evidence Report 175 (2016)

How will security in cities be understood in the future? For whom will it be provided? What are the ways by which urban security provision will be governed? And, what impact will violence and order in cities have on the processes of state-building in fragile contexts in the future? These questions are uppermost in the minds of policymakers and academics. More details


Rethinking Approaches to Peace-Building and Political Settlements in an Increasingly Urbanised World

IDS Policy Briefing 112 (2016)

Violence in cities significantly compromises development and can have detrimental consequences for peace-building and political settlements in both conflict and non-conflict settings. More details

Non-IDS publication

Measuring Violent Conflict in Micro-Level Surveys: Current Practices and Methodological Challenges

World Bank Research Observer 1.31 (2016)

This journal article reviews current practices and common challenges in the measurement of the causes, functioning, and consequences of violent conflict at the micro-level. More details

Non-IDS publication

Time Discounting and Credit Market Access in a Large-Scale Cash Transfer Programme

Journal of African Economies 25.3 (2016)

In this Journal article, we provide evidence on whether a national poverty alleviation programme in Kenya can affect inter-temporal decisions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Supply and demand restrictions to education in conflict-affected countries: New research and future agendas

International Journal of Educational Development (2016)

This paper reviews an emerging body of micro-level research on the impact of violent conflict on child educational outcomes, with the aim of identifying key supply-and demand-side bottlenecks that shape the expansion and effectiveness of education systems in conflict-affected countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Violence against Women in the Gaza Strip: After the Israeli Military Operation Protective Edge 2014

Following the Israeli military Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, this reports presents the findings of a study initiated by ActionAid and Alianza por la Solidaridad (Alianza) on violence against women (VAW) in the Gaza Strip. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Public and Private Control and Contestation of Public Space amid Violent Conflict in Karachi

Human Settlements Working Paper (2015)

Few cities in South Asia have been affected by violence more than Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and economic centre. This working paper examines the impacts of the city’s declining security situation on the control and contestation of public space. More details

This is the image to IDS Rapid Response Briefing 11, 'Tackling Gun Violence in India'.

Tackling Gun Violence in India

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 11 (2015)

Gun-related violence has far-reaching adverse impacts on all levels of society. In addition to murder and injury, gun violence can exacerbate cycles of highly localised urban poverty, inequality and vulnerability. More details


‘They Call Me Warrior’: The Legacy of Conflict and the Struggle to End Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Sierra Leone

IDS Evidence Report 155 (2015)

A relatively small country with just over 6 million people, Sierra Leone has been the focus of considerable public and policy attention because of the recent Ebola epidemic and, before that, the decade-long civil war. Given the concern with finding ways to ‘build Sierra Leone differently’ in the post-Ebola context (IDS 2015), this paper considers some of the legacies of the country’s history. More details

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs from the Addressing and Mitigating Violence programme, May 2013 – October 2015

This brochure presents outputs from the Addressing and Mitigating Violence strand of work within an IDS programme entitled Strengthening Evidence-based Policy funded through an Accountable Grant from the UK Department for International Development. More details


Whose Security? Building Inclusive and Secure Societies in an Unequal and Insecure World

IDS Evidence Report 151 (2015)

Development researchers, governance specialists, security and international relations analysts are cartographers of the modern world. Their job is to untangle the tangled, yet in doing so they all too often make flat all that is high and rolling. More details


Green Development, Natural Resource Financialization and Emerging Conflict in Southern Africa with Examples from Implementation Contexts in Madagascar, Tanzania and South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 148 (2015)

In recent years, widespread uncertainty around global economic and environmental futures has contributed to growing advocacy for a global ‘greening’ of the economy involving the coordinated establishment of pro-environment economic policies and programmes around the world. More details


Towards Conflict-sensitive Regional Integration in East Africa

IDS Policy Briefing 100 (2015)

Regional integration and development in East Africa have been portrayed as inextricably linked. Integration involving investment in trade and transport corridors to move goods, services and people between coast and resource-rich hinterlands is seen as part of development and economic growth, even peace-building. More details


Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details

IDS Evidence Report 142 Frontcover

High-Level Roundtable on Improving Lives and Reducing Violence through the Provision of Services

IDS Evidence Report 142 (2015)

This high-level roundtable explored the complex links between poverty, violence, insecurity and the provision of services, drawing on four case studies from within Nairobi, Kathmandu, Mumbai and India as a whole. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Effect of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes

This UN Women report presents the overall findings, draws comparative conclusions across the four case studies and discusses practical recommendations for integrating gender equality programming in future humanitarian interventions in ways that strengthen effectiveness and inclusiveness. More details


Understanding Relationships between the Green Economy, Resource Financialization and Conflict

IDS Policy Briefing 95 (2015)

A key aspect of the United Nations’ sustainable development approach centres on creating markets for financialized ‘natural capital’ products, particularly in resource-rich, lower-income countries. The appeal of this comes from a set of policy promises termed the ‘triple-win’: achieving environmental sustainability, socially inclusive economic growth and poverty alleviation. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 457, 'Inequality, Social Cooperation and Local Collective Action'.

Inequality, Social Cooperation and Local Collective Action

IDS Working Paper 457 (2015)

This paper examines the relationship between inequality and collective action, and identifies a range of mechanisms that shape the association between income inequality and local collective action. More details


Tangled Ties: Al-Shabaab and Political Volatility in Kenya

IDS Evidence Report 130 (2015)

In recent years, a spate of attacks has destabilised a swathe of Kenya’s peripheral counties as well as bringing terror to its capital, Nairobi. As violent insecurity spreads, it has fomented fear and stoked ethnic and regional divisions, precipitating security crackdowns and roiling the country’s infamously tumultuous politics. More details

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