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How do we overcome violent conflict, and how do we create sustainable peace? This question is of key importance to understanding and shaping political, social, and economic developments in the twenty-first century. While interstate wars have become rare and the number of civil wars has decreased overall, violence remains a ubiquitous problem and new security challenges have emerged. The Peace and Security Research Programme examines peace and conflict processes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and investigates international violence and security trends.

International crises, protracted intrastate conflicts, and lower-level state and social violence destroy the lives of millions of people. They are also a major hindrance to development and put the security of individuals, social groups, states, and the world significantly at risk. We analyse the role of local, national, regional, and international actors in creating peace and security and overcoming conflict by advancing novel theoretical explanations and integrating state-of-the-art qualitative and quantitative comparative methods. Utilising networks with leading institutions in peace, conflict, and security research from several world regions the programme generates in-depth knowledge of the processes involved. Analysing the increasingly transnational nature of conflicts, security provision and peacebuilding, we aim to identify lessons for both scholars and policymakers.

The researchers in the the Peace and Security Programme scholars are organised in three teams that analyse how identities and ideologies, institutional arrangements, and international interventions affect peace and conflict dynamics. The Identities, Ideology, and Conflict Research Team studies how social identities, religion and ideology affect processes of mobilisation and contention, as well as how they may intensify or reduce insecurity and conflict. The Institutions for Sustainable Peace Research Team explores whether and how institutional arrangements such as power-sharing governments, security sector reforms, and the governance of climate change and forced migration help to promote peace but may also contribute to the emergence of conflict. The Interventions and Security Research Team studies how external actors and international and regional arrangements affect peace and conflict dynamics and what the security implications of their interventions are at the local, national, regional, and international levels.


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The researchers in the the Peace and Security Programme scholars are organised in three teams that analyse how identities and ideologies, institutional arrangements, and international interventions affect peace and conflict dynamics. The Identities, Ideology, and Conflict Research Team studies how social identities, religion and ideology affect processes of mobilisation and contention, as well as how they may intensify or reduce insecurity and conflict. The Institutions for Sustainable Peace Research Team explores whether and how institutional arrangements such as power-sharing governments, security sector reforms, and the governance of climate change and forced migration help to promote peace but may also contribute to the emergence of conflict. The Interventions and Security Research Team studies how external actors and international and regional arrangements affect peace and conflict dynamics and what the security implications of their interventions are at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

Research Team 1: Identities, Ideology, and Conflict

The Identities, Ideology, and Conflict Research Team studies how religious and other social identities as well as ideologies affect processes of mobilisation and diverse forms of contentious politics, and how they either intensify or de-escalate insecurity and violent conflict. The Research Team also analyses how religion and ethnicity combine with material factors, such as natural resources, in shaping the trajectories of conflict.

Based on extensive fieldwork and on cooperation with researchers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, we generate in-depth knowledge of the actors and micro-level processes involved. Moreover, we focus on the general impact that identities, religion and ideology have on conflict. As an interdisciplinary team that includes political scientists, historians, and religious studies experts, team members compare cases in and across the different world regions. In doing so, they employ qualitative as well as quantitative methods and work with mixed-method designs.

The Research Team focuses on three areas: First, it analyses social and political actors and their mobilisation strategies. This work comprises research on political Islam and examines how and why violent and potentially violent Islamist groups radicalise or become more moderate. It also includes how Jihadi groups frame international developments to attract new followers in Western societies. Second, it investigates how religious factors influence the likelihood of armed conflict, and how they interact with other drivers of conflict and peace, such as ethnic identities. This investigation includes work with global data sets on the religious ideologies of rebels and different forms of religious violence. Finally, the Research Team looks at micro processes of conflict but also cooperation at the local level and at the influence that, for example, interethnic and religious relations have on these processes.

Research Team 2: Institutions for Sustainable Peace

The Research Team on Institutions for Sustainable Peace examines the drivers of peace and security, and also conflict and repression. Its members particularly focus on the transformational processes related to both formal and informal institutions. The team investigates which institutional arrangements help to create, foster, and promote peace and security (for instance power-sharing governments or security sector reform and the governance of climate change and forced migration), taking into account the influence of international, national, and local actors. Researchers pay equal attention to institutions and processes that may obstruct peace by analysing violent state and non-state actors, such as rebel organisations, organised crime, or the state security apparatus.

The Research Team seeks to understand how institutions can help overcoming current challenges to peace and security. Its researchers evaluate the quality and stability of peace and support policymakers in anticipating conflict outbreak and escalation dynamics. To this end, the interdisciplinary team conducts research at international, regional, national, and subnational levels of analysis, using both quantitative and qualitative comparative methods. Team members have conducted fieldwork in places as diverse as Argentina, Chile, Central America, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Peru, Syria, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka.

Research Team 3: Interventions and Security

The Interventions and Security Research Team analyses the different forms of diplomatic, economic, and military intervention in conflicts by external actors such as the United Nations and regional organisations, states, and non-state actors. It asks under what conditions these actors intervene in certain conflicts but not in others; why they choose specific instruments for intervention; and what the consequences of intervention are for conflict resolution, for regional and international security, and for domestic politics in the targeted regimes. To address these questions, the Research Team adopts a cross-regional comparative perspective and combines qualitative and quantitative methods. Its approach is multilevel since it focuses on different kinds of external actors and the impact of their respective interventions at the international, regional, national, and local levels. With its focus on both peace-promoting and potentially conflict-escalating policies, including sanctions, peace operations, mediation and negotiations, the Research Team works at the intersection of peace and conflict studies as well as security studies.

The team’s current and prospective research projects focus on the imposition, effectiveness and termination of international sanctions, on regional conflict resolution initiatives, United Nations peace operations, as well as on international mediation and negotiation processes.