Click and drag to explore the map; click on any marker to view that case.

Featured Resources

Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area

Conflict in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area

Horn of Africa

Conflict in the Horn of Africa


Conflict in Colombia

Explore All Research

Horn of Africa, Myanmar | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments Cross-Stakeholder Forum Reports: Understanding Changing Conflict Dynamics in Myanmar and the Horn of Africa The Oxford Global Security Programme partnered with the UN System Staff College, the Danish Refugee Council, and International Alert to host a virtual cross-stakeholder forum that brought together civil society, the international community, and academia. ​This unique cross-stakeholder methodology facilitated exploring different perspectives —from three different continents— on topics such as the transition from war to peace, uncertainty, and perceived and experienced insecurities. Myanmar… Myanmar | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods Conflict in Myanmar Syria and Iraq | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods, Resources Conflict in Syria and Iraq Colombia | Actors Time to rethink Colombia’s militarised national security approach Jorge E. Delgado, a Senior Expert for the Colombia/Venezuela programme in the Engagement, Dialogue and Process Design Unit at The European Institute of Peace, The configuration of Colombia’s security forces in a post-FARC-EP country has been a contentious and politically charged issue since the peace talks. Using a historical approach, the article argues that the Colombian security forces’ thinking has remained constant despite the signature of the 2016 Peace Accord.… African Great Lakes | Impact on Civilians, Environments, Resources Chris Lavers: Space-Based Monitoring of Armed Conflict and its Impact on Civilians Chris Lavers a Visiting Research Fellow at the CCW during the 2020-2021 academic year, This article explores the existing use of satellite imaging for the monitoring of armed conflict impact, including settlement distractions and environment deterioration. In combination with the “traditional” data, satellite imaging might play a crucial role in the protection of civilians and providing evidence of human rights violations. High resolution commercially… Mexico | Actors, Methods Ryan C. Berg: Concerning Weapons Trafficking Trends Drive Further Violence in Mexico Ryan C. Berg is a Research Fellow in Latin America Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, D.C. and a Visiting Research Fellow at the CCW during the 2020-2021 academic year. and, @RyanBergPhD This article engages with the Changing Character of Conflict Platform framework by analyzing changes in Mexican weapons trafficking figures over the calendar years 2018 and 2019. It also adds greater nuance and understanding to the weapons… Syria and Iraq, Colombia | Actors, Impact on Civilians The Politics of Images: Understanding Change in Armed Conflict through Photography ​This article demonstrates how integrating the disciplinary approach of International Relations with visual arts in the form of photojournalism and documentary photography enhances understanding of dynamic change in armed conflict. We argue that photo-essays are a powerful methodological and epistemological tool of knowledge production because of their potential to (i) allow us to understand dynamic change in armed conflict as a process, rather than a static phenomenon; (ii) contribute to an… Myanmar Addiction to Natural Resources: Jade, Poppy, and the Political Economy of Conflict in Burma’s Northern Border Adam Dean’s photo-essay on northern Myanmar (formerly Burma) shows how political conflict between Myanmar’s military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic rebel army fighting for autonomy along Myanmar’s border with China, is interlaced with the illegal trade of both heroine and jade. Dean’s visually stunning photographs should help to draw attention to this dizzyingly complex conflict. The Kachin political project spans the geopolitically complex terrain of Burma, China, and… Philippines Seeing Between the Rubble in a Militarized Mindanao, Philippines Hannah Reyes Morales’s photographs take us into the battle to control Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where a growing number of insurgents have pledged allegiance to ISIS. Her images are a testament to the Philippines government’s heavy-handed treatment of the operational environment, turning entire areas to rubble in its bid to wipe out the insurgent threat. Returning with residents after the Marawi siege of 2017, Reyes Morales documents the devastation of homes destroyed and… Actors Svenja Korth: Can an Oxford-UNSSC analytical tool prove a game changer for how we resolve conflicts? Svenja Korth Senior Manager, Peace and Security at United Nations System Staff College This article was originally published on the UNSSC website as a blog post. Secretary-General António Guterres has laid out a thorough vision for how the United Nations can better support countries to prevent the outbreak of crisis. High hopes are attached to this vision, and the United Nations is expected to play an even more critical role going forward. As acknowledged by the 2016 Sustaining Peace… Rethinking Conflict, Building Peace with Dr Annette Idler and Juan Manuel Santos ​Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia (2010-2018) and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (2016), talks to Dr Annette Idler about her work on dynamic conflict changes and their consequences for people-centred security. This webinar Rethinking Conflict, Building Peace is a celebration of the Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards 2020 received by Dr Idler. >> Watch on YouTube << Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area | Actors, Impact on Civilians Ashwaq Masoodi: Changing Contours of the Kashmir Conflict Ashwaq Masoodi, Fellow at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism The blog article explains the evolving nature of the Kashmir conflict and the often overlooked role, agency and demands of the local Kashmiris in it. Kashmir is often portrayed as a conflict between Pakistan and India while Kashmir’s effort to gain independence is overlooked and so is the role and needs of the Kashmiris. The piece looks at the different type of actors involved in the… Myanmar, Colombia | Actors, Impact on Civilians Uncertainty in Changing Security Landscapes: Evidence from Colombia and Myanmar This paper sheds light on how uncertainty informs people’s everyday lives in changing conflict situations. Annette Idler argues that, in settings of armed multiparty conflicts, changes such as ceasefires or the demobilization of an armed actor induce uncertainty because the previously existing order and the rules of behaviour attached to it are no longer available. Drawing on evidence from extensive fieldwork in Myanmar’s and Colombia’s remote conflict-affected borderlands, she shows that… Colombia, Syria and Iraq | Actors, Impact on Civilians Visualizing Change in Armed Conflict: Complexity in the Eyes of the Beholder Violent conflict evolves and adapts to ever-changing conditions motivated by interactions between actors involved in conflict and the places in which it develops. Such a multifaceted interplay of variables complicates the understanding of dynamic conflict and requires sophisticated tools to explain the processes it involves. Challenging hegemonic epistemological processes in conflict studies and related fields, we argue that visualization offers opportunities to explore dynamic conflict in a… Actors New Perspectives on Changing Conflict Patterns: The Thirty Years’ War Example ​How do armed conflicts shift across time and space? We argue that identifying and analysing spatial-temporal dynamic patterns across historical and contemporary conflicts help us better understand shifts in conflict that so far remain understudied. We draw on the case of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in Central Europe, that involved most of the major European powers and rewrote the political map of Europe. We build the Thirty Years’ War Conflict Database consisting of the… Horn of Africa | Actors, Impact on Civilians The Network Structure of Conflict Actors and its Effect on Violence against Civilians: The Case of the Conflict in Somalia ​We observe striking differences in the frequency and intensity of civilian targeting. Theories explaining such a variation often do not take into consideration the type and intensity of interactions between the complex array of conflict actors. Although conflicts often consist of many interlinked actors competing for power, resources and support from the local population, current literature tends to oversimplify actors’ fragmentation by focusing on conflict dyads or counts of actors… Colombia | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Resources The Logic of Illicit Flows in Armed Conflict: Explaining Variation in Violent Nonstate Group Interactions in Colombia ​Why is there variation in how violent nonstate groups interact in armed conflict? Where armed conflict and organized crime converge in unstable regions worldwide, these groups sometimes enter cooperative arrangements with opposing groups. Within the same unstable setting, violent nonstate groups forge stable, long-term relations with each other in some regions, engage in unstable, short-term arrangements in others, and dispute each other elsewhere. Even though such paradoxical arrangements… African Great Lakes | Resources Suffering, Exploitation, and Displacement Marcus Bleasdale’s images of the conflict in eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC) emerge from a decade-long immersion in the troubled dynamics of that region. In the background of his images that highlight human suffering, exploitation, and displacement, is a land bedeviled by its riches. By documenting how the quest for mineral wealth reconfigures the social and economic landscape, Bleasdale opens windows onto the importance of understanding the “resource curse” that has beset eastern DRC.… Ukraine/Russia | Methods Changing Methods in Ukraine’s Conflict Maysun Abu-Khdeir’s photographs of the crisis in eastern Ukraine move across borders that themselves are in flux. The Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 was paradigmatic of a new form of warfare that hybridizes inter-state conflict and guerrilla conflict. In this new permutation, actors and methods are strategically muddled. From the invasion of Crimea to its aftermath, Abu Khdeir’s images track the tensions of ethnicity and nationalism across an unstable regional environment that continues… Mexico | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Methods, Resources Changing Perceptions of War in Mexico Mass graves, rival armed factions battling for territory, kidnapped civilians, and law enforcement under siege, it all sounds like a war zone. As Javier Manzano’s photographs show, everyday life in contemporary Mexico can resemble an armed conflict, as the struggle to control the lucrative drug trade rips at the social fabric of Mexican society. In this context, policing looks and acts a lot like counterinsurgency. Whereas some elements of Mexican law enforcement work to pick apart the… Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area, Colombia, Horn of Africa, Nigeria | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments Introducing the Changing Character of Conflict Platform project: New approach to quantitative analysis of protracted conflicts Katerina Tkacova, University of Oxford The interdisciplinary project aims to create a knowledge-based platform for academics, practitioners, policy-makers and the wider public to understand the changing character of conflicts across different epistemologies and methodologies. While we might not be able to stop some conflicts, we may well be able to prevent a drastic increase in casualties or erosion of social fabric if we understand the main patterns of organized violence. In our work, we focus… African Great Lakes | Impact on Civilians, Environments The Consequences of Refugee Repatriation for Stayees: A Threat to Stability and Sustainable Development? Carlos Vargas-Silva, University of Oxford Using longitudinal data from Burundi collected in 2011 and 2015, this paper explores the consequences of repatriation for stayee households i.e. those who never left the country during the conflict Large-scale refugee repatriation is sometimes considered a threat to stability and sustainable development because of the burden it could impose on receiving communities. Yet the empirical evidence on the impacts of refugee return is limited. Using… African Great Lakes | Actors, Impact on Civilians Responding to Sexual Violence in Conflict: Fighting Impunity in DRC Chloe Lewis, University of Oxford Sexual violence in conflict once again captured the international spotlight earlier this month when gynaecologist, Dr Denis Mukwege, and human rights activist, Nadia Murad, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Responding to sexual violence grew exponentially in importance on international policy agendas over the past decade, with clear implications for operational and programmatic practice across conflict-affected contexts. The adoption of UN Security… Methods A Westphalia for the Middle East? Patrick Milton, University of Cambridge This talk will discuss the parallels between the Thirty Years War and today’s Middle East and suggest ways in which lessons drawn from the congress and treaties of Westphalia. It was the original forever war, which went on interminably, fuelled by religious and constitutional disputes, personal ambition, fear of hegemony, and communal suspicion. It dragged in all the neighbouring powers. It was punctuated by repeated failed ceasefires. It inflicted… Horn of Africa | Actors, Impact on Civilians Gender, State-collapse, Conflict and State-building: Recent Research from the Somali Context Judith Gardner, Rift Valley Institute Prescribing and policing gender norms and relations, in other words controlling society’s experiences of femininity and masculinity, along with social exclusion practices, is arguably at the very heart of the protracted and violent struggle for political and ideological power in today’s Somalia. The research material that my session will be drawing on comes from two recent qualitative studies: the Impact of War on Somali Men (Rift Valley Institute) and… Syria and Iraq | Actors, Impact on Civilians The Law and Practice of Cross-border Humanitarian Relief Operations: Syria as a Case Study Dapo Akande, University of Oxford and Emanuela-Chiara Gilliard, University of Oxford, European University Institute The extremely severe restrictions on humanitarian operations have been one of the defining features of the Syrian conflict. Humanitarian operations have been severely impeded by a range of constraints, including active hostilities, repeated attacks against those providing humanitarian and, in particular, medical assistance, shifting front lines, proliferation of parties to the… Nigeria | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods, Resources Conflict in Nigeria In 2009, the conflict consisted only of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. In 2013, the community-based group Yan Gora formed to protect the local civilian population from Boko Haram (Agbiboa, 2015; Center for Civilians in Conflict, 2018). Nigerian troops together with support from the locally embedded Yan Gora forced Boko Haram to move toward Lake Chad, a region bordering with Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. The porous borders together with the fact that Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the… Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods, Resources Conflict in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area The existence and activities of the Taleban Movement of Pakistan (TTP) are closely connected to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, after which high-ranking members of the Taleban and al Qaeda fled to FATA. We consider the conflict between the Taleban and the US-led coalition connected to the insurgency led by TTP in FATA for two main reasons. First, the presence of the Taleban and al Qaeda in FATA resulted in US drone strikes beyond the Afghan border (Aslam, 2011). Second, the presence… Horn of Africa | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods, Resources Conflict in the Horn of Africa Methods Bringing Perceptions and Experiences in: A Novel Approach to Measuring Changes in Violent Conflict Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area | Environments The Experience of War: Afghanistan Colombia | Methods Mathematical Modelling of Conflict Change What drives nonlinear change in armed conflict? We identify changes within the conflict in Colombia across time and space which are invisible to descriptive statistics that assume linearity of conflict developments. To do so, we explore existing datasets on conflict events and our novel dataset on armed groups’ presence and behaviour in two Colombian departments. Drawing on Complexity Theory, we treat the conflict in Colombia as a complex system. Among the key characteristics of those systems… African Great Lakes | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Resources Cross-border Conflicts and their Connections: The Case of the African Great Lakes and South Sudan Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area, Colombia, Horn of Africa, Nigeria | Methods, Resources Conflicts in Flux: A Novel Approach to Analysing Conflict Dynamics ​This article presents a novel approach to studying armed conflict based on a new geographical unit of analysis, ‘setting of organized violence’ (SORVI). Some of the world’s most devastating armed conflicts—ranging from the Afghan civil war to the Syrian conflict—comprise several entangled conflicts and changing contested issues that spill across borders. They also feature new spin-off conflicts. Current macro-level studies of conflict research, especially those with quantitative… Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments, Methods, Resources The Changing Character of Conflict – A Conceptual Framework Actors The Future of International Security: Challenges for Responses to the World’s Changing Security Landscape Actors, Environments Strategic Resources in 2030: Three Challenges for the Future of International Security Environments A Borderland Lens on Hubs of Protracted Conflict Nigeria | Environments Changing Fronts of the Conflict in Nigeria The insurgent group Boko Haram has grown steadily from an organization focused in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, to the rest of Borno State, to surrounding states, and surrounding countries throughout the Chad Basin. What is driving this expansion? Danielle Villasana’s images do not give us answers but they do direct our attention to a key dimension of the conflict, environmental conditions, such as questions of population density and the willingness to attack non-state targets,… Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Area | Actors, Methods The Importance of Geography Lorenzo Tugnoli’s photoessay is divided into two parts. He opens with a stunning series of black and white images of village of Lagubu, which sits on the Afghanistan side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. That section of the two-part photo-essay opens up windows into daily life in this border region, views that illuminate the ways in which social structure is a central, but often hidden, dimension of the conflict. For example, we see families working in the fields to make a living, often by… Colombia | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments Transformations in the Colombian Armed Conflict In his photographs, Federico Ríos explores transformations in the Colombian armed conflict through the period of negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (2010–2016) and the unfolding post-peace accord moment. His photo-essay includes many of the conflict’s armed actors, such as guerrilla groups that have been pushed to Colombia’s borderlands. Yet the series of photographs goes beyond classic depictions of Colombia’s armed… Horn of Africa | Actors, Impact on Civilians, Environments Changing Conflict Actors and their Impact on Civilian Suffering The Somali government and Al Shabaab militants are only two sides of a war that has dozens of armed actors. It’s a conflict that has moved across the contested borders of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and — as the research and visualizations for the Changing Character of Conflict Platform shows has shown — is extremely dynamic. This is, in part, because of the country’s geostrategic location. Militaries of world powers have rushed to set up bases in the Horn of Africa, in part to keep a… Impact on Civilians, Environments Gendering Borderlands: A Research Agenda Colombia | Impact on Civilians, Actors, Environments, Methods, Resources Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War Idler, Annette. 2019. “Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War.” Oxford University Press: New York. Colombia | Actors, Environments, Methods, Resources Conflict in Colombia ​The conflict in Colombia started as a left-wing guerrilla insurgency against the Colombian government. Later in the conflict, new actors formed in reaction to the violence and instability (Pécaut, 2001), such as the violent engagement of paramilitary groups, including the paramilitary umbrella group AUC and its individual Bloque Central Bolívar, primarily with the left-wing guerrillas FARC and ELN (Saab & Taylor, 2009). Similarly, the drug trade and associated drug cartels became… Syria and Iraq | Actors, Impact on Civilians The Trans-Border Fight Against ISIS Territory has long been the motivation for war and controlling a geographic area has been the ultimate index for winning and losing. The rise, fall, and persistence of ISIS, however, at once reinforces but complicates the centrality of territorial conquest to warfare. Born out of the same genealogy that gave rise to Al-Qaeda, going back to Soviet-occupation Afghanistan, ISIS, which was born of subsequent rivalries between jihadist factions, illustrates the logic of viral mutation so central to… Actors Michael von der Schulenburg: The Era of Armed Non-State Actors - Void in International Law Michael von der Schulenburg, former UN Assistant Secretary General with Political Affairs   This blog article explains why the current international law is unable to effectively deal with the prominent role of non-state conflict actors in armed conflicts. This is a follow-up article to Risks of Global Chaos on the increased importance of non-state and external actors and its consequences for civilians trapped in armed conflicts.   International… Actors Michael von der Schulenburg: The Era of Armed Non-State Actors - Risks of Global Chaos Michael von der Schulenburg, former UN Assistant Secretary General with Political Affairs   The Changing Character of Conflict Platform project explores changes in five dimensions of conflict, namely actors involved in conflict, impact of conflict on civilians, environments in which conflict takes place, methods used in conflict and resources that drive conflict. This blog article focuses on the increased importance of non-state and external actors and its… Impact on Civilians Chris Holloway: After the Cold War - The Impact of Economic and Financial Warfare on Civilians Chris Holloway, Australian Department of Defence   This blog article compares two examples of indirect coercion, namely, economic and financial warfare, and shows a crucial role of informal authorities, such as banks, and non-physical space in current conflicts.   ‘Conflict’ includes modalities of coercion beyond simply the threat or use of armed force. So, when we think about the changing character of conflict, we need to think about the… Philippines | Actors Fausto Belo Ximenes: The Changing Actor Dynamics in the Philippines’ Moro conflict Fausto Belo Ximenes, University of Oxford This blog article presents the latest actor dynamics in the Philippines’ Moro conflict where two previously contentious separatist groups, namely MILF and MNLF, are now willing to cooperate. This is a momentum that should be carefully and timely seized by the Philippine government to bring some measure of peace to the country’s troubled south. The passing of Bangsamoro organic law, better known by its previous name Bangsamoro… Methods Clara Voyvodic Casabo: Criminal or political - a viable typology for future studies of the changing character of violent conflict? Clara Voyvodic Casabo, University of Oxford   The Changing Character of Conflict Platform stresses the need to integrate more orthodox understandings of war with the evolving complex realities on the ground. This blog article considers the distinction of conflict and criminal in academic research and argues that this fails to address the different overlapping motivations and forms in which actors and groups choose to engage in armed violence.… Methods Ernesto Oyarbide: What does their violence mean? The risk of moral epistemologies in analysing changes in organised violent conflict Over the past years, scholars have addressed how subconscious psychological biases can affect decision-making. When it comes to security policy, one prominent bias is the individual’s tendency to adopt a single and sometimes simplistic epistemological approach to explain the origin of violence. In a world where characteristics of violent organised conflict are in constant flux, a one-sided or unsystematic application of one’s preferred epistemology to interpret violence may lead to costly…