Peace and Security

The Peace and Security Research Programme analyses how identities and ideologies, institutional arrangements, and international interventions affect peace and conflict dynamics in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and investigates international violence and security trends.


  • 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 Peace and Security Programme 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.

    Dr. Christian von Soest

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Peace and Security"

    T. +49 (0)40 - 428 25-590christian.vonsoest@giga-hamburg.de

    Deutsche Welle | Quote | 13/09/2022

    The alleged successes of Nayib Bukele in the fight against violence

    Violence in El Salvador is a persistent problem as are repressive approaches by the governments.

    Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

    Lead Research Fellow / General Editor GIGA Focus Editor GIGA Focus Global

    Journal of Peace Research | 08/2022

    International Sanctions Termination, 1990–2018: Introducing the IST Dataset

    We introduce the International Sanctions Termination (IST) dataset that captures all EU, UN, US and regional sanctions between 1990 – 2018. We describe the data collection process, discuss IST’s compatibility with existing datasets, introduce new variables that focus on the design of sanctions and explore how they affect their termination.

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    GIGA Forum | 29/09/2022

    Attacking the Vote: Election Fears in Brazil and Beyond

    Many people fear rigged elections, when, on 2 October 2022, more than 150 million Brazilians are called to vote. President Jair Bolsonaro, seeking re-election, has repeatedly impugned the voting system. At this GIGA Forum, experts explore flawed, corrupt, or failed elections in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

    GIGA Focus Global | 3/2022

    COVID-19 and Violent Actors in the Global South: A Complex Relationship

    A cross-regional comparative analysis of the effects of COVID-19 on violence shows high levels of variation between contexts and in terms of specific armed actors. While Latin America along with the Middle East and North Africa have experienced an overall reduction, violence in sub-Saharan Africa has increased.

    Infographic | 08/2022

    Regional Neighbourhoods Matter for Peacebuilding

    Neighbours, regional organisations and networks of different actors play an important role for conflict dynamics. They can either promote peacebuilding or the prolongation and escalation of violent conflicts. The infographic illustrates this.

    Research | 21/08/2022

    ECPR General Conference 2022: GIGA Scientists Present Their Research

    This year, GIGA researchers will again present their research results at the main conference of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) in virtual lectures and on-site panels in Innsbruck, Austria. The annual congress serves as a networking event and drives the development of research in all Political Science subdisciplines.

    Journal of Conflict Resolution | 06/2022

    Divergent Perceptions of Peace in Post-Conflict Societies: Insights from Sri Lanka

    Research on postwar peace focuses primarily on how elites and institutions can prevent relapse into civil war. In line with this special issue’s focus on citizens’ experiences, we take a micro-level approach to explore peace beyond the absence of war.

    Prof. Dr. Sabine C. Carey

    Christian Gläßel

    GIGA Focus Latin America | 3/2022

    Pandemic, Protest, and Petro Presidente: Rescuing Colombia’s Peace

    COVID-19 paved the way for a left-wing government winning in Colombia’s recent elections. The pandemic has deepened structural inequalities, promoting an unprecedented wave of protest against the right-wing incumbent. Answering with high levels of violence only further increased the call for change.

    Regional Environmental Change | 10/2022

    Scorched Earth Tactics of the “Islamic State” After its Loss of Territory: Intentional Burning of Farmland in Iraq and Syria

    This article examines the causes of uncontrolled and irregular fires within farmlands in parts of the two countries in 2019–2020 and quantify their extent spatiotemporally using a combination of medium and coarse-resolution satellite imagery, land cover, precipitation, temperature data, and multiple sources of armed violence data.

    Hadi H. Jaafar

    Lara Sujud

    GIGA Working Papers | 09/2022

    Sustaining Civic Space in Times of COVID-19: Global Trends

    How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted civic space worldwide? Contrary to mainstream assumptions of “shrinking space,” analysis of five world regions in the Global South and non-OECD Europe and the Caucasus shows that civil society actors have, in fact, often still been able to sustain civic space.

    Small Wars and Insurgencies | 09/2022

    The Shadow of ‘the Boys:’ Rebel Governance without Territorial Control in Assam’s ULFA Insurgency

    This article leverages data from an oft-overlooked case of rebel governance – India’s United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) – to demonstrate the importance of de-centring territorial control as a prerequisite for rebel governance.

    Alex Waterman

    Research Fellow

    Journal of Peace Research | 08/2022

    International Sanctions Termination, 1990–2018: Introducing the IST Dataset

    We introduce the International Sanctions Termination (IST) dataset that captures all EU, UN, US and regional sanctions between 1990 – 2018. We describe the data collection process, discuss IST’s compatibility with existing datasets, introduce new variables that focus on the design of sanctions and explore how they affect their termination.

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Infographic | 08/2022

    Regional Neighbourhoods Matter for Peacebuilding

    Neighbours, regional organisations and networks of different actors play an important role for conflict dynamics. They can either promote peacebuilding or the prolongation and escalation of violent conflicts. The infographic illustrates this.

    Research Project | 01/01/2022 - 30/06/2023

    Sanctions Termination in Times of Crises: Unpacking the Role of External Shocks

    In March 2020, the UN Secretary-General called for the easing of sanctions against Iran in response to COVID-19. Hence, external shocks are potentially related to sanctions termination. Yet, the effect of different types of external shocks such as pandemics, natural disasters, and economic crises on the (gradual) removal of sanctions has not been systematically studied. This project examines when and how external shocks affect sanctions termination through a nested research design combining new data collection, statistical analyses, and two case studies.
    DFG, 2022-2023

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Research Project | 01/12/2021 - 30/11/2024

    Migration and Im/Mobility in the Global South during a Pandemic (DFG Network)

    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to novel experiences of isolation, mobility restriction and exclusion. Mobile populations are particularly affected when borders are closed and migrants are turned away, commuters are denied border crossings, resettlements are suspended or unlawful deportations are justified by pandemic-related risks. This network brings together twenty migration researchers to collect data, build theory, and gain new knowledge about the impact of the pandemic on the Global South.
    DFG, 2021-2024

    Prof. Dr. Heike Drotbohm

    Dr. Antje Missbach

    Judith Altrogge

    Jun.-Prof. Dr. Soledad Alvarez Velasco

    Dr. Sabine Mohamed

    Dr. Tabea Scharrer

    Dr. Gerhild Perl

    Dr. Dora Sampaio

    Dr. Victoria Kumala Sakti

    Dr. Megha Amrith

    Dr. Wayne Palmer

    Yaatsil Guevara

    Dr. Magdalena Suerbaum

    Dr. Monika Palmberger

    Dilshad Muhammad

    Dr. Franzisca Zanker

    Prof. Dr. Jelena Tosic

    Maria Lassak

    Dr. Katja Girr

    Prof. Dr. Magnus Treiber

    Research Project | 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2022

    Rebellion, Elections and the Pandemic in the Central African Republic: COVID-19 and its Impact on Deep-seated Patterns of Governance

    The COVID-19 pandemic reaches the Central African Republic (CAR) just when citizens were passing milestones for ending the country's conflicts through a peace agreement and national elections. A new rebellion broke out in late 2020 that hindered medical access to some of the most impoverished areas. An interplay of rebellion, elections and containing the pandemic have become the critical triangle deciding whether CAR can overcome its deep-seated patterns of governance that are stifling political and economic progress.
    DFG, 2021-2022

    Dr. Tim Glawion

    Research Fellow

    Research Project | 01/06/2021 - 30/11/2021

    A Different Kind of Refugee: A Case Study of the Emirates’ Syrian Migrants Seeking Citizenship in Europe

    In the absence of access to citizenship rights and permanent residencies in the Gulf States, Syrian migrants of the Gulf are increasingly seeking alternative permanencies elsewhere. Through an ethnography in Berlin and Hamburg, this project aims to explore how Syrians, born and raised in the UAE, navigate the ‘asylum seeking route’ to Western Europe, taking into consideration the situation in Syria and its effects upon their relationship to citizenship and future plans, within the Gulf and Europe. AvH, 2021

    Dr. İdil Akıncı

    Formerly Visiting Fellow

    Research Project | 01/05/2021 - 31/12/2025

    SAGE-Centre: Sustainable Adaptation to Global Change in the Middle East

    In dealing with climate change, scientific cooperation between emerging countries and industrialised nations is of particular importance. The GIGA is part of the Climate and Environment Centre SAGE – one of four global centres on the topic, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Federal Foreign Office. SAGE will contribute to empowering Middle Eastern societies to create a science-based, adaptive and sustainable management of natural resources in a changing world.
    DAAD, 2021-2025

    Prof. Dr. Eckart Woertz

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

    Research Project | 01/04/2021 - 31/03/2024

    World Order Narratives of the Global South (WONAGO)

    The decades since the late twentieth century are marked by the end of the bipolar world order and the rise of countries of the Global South. Most explanations focus on political and economic power shifts and do not pay much attention to ideas of order, especially those prevalent in the Global South. To provide a more inclusive perspective, this project researches world order narratives in Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its Area Studies strategy.
    BMBF, 2021-2024

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 31/08/2022

    COVID-19 and the Dynamics of (Post-)War Violence: Lessons from Colombia and Syria

    What are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dynamics of violence during and after civil wars? The project analyses the pandemic-related reconfiguration of social and political orders in a comparative study of Syria and Colombia at subnational levels. In this way, it will provide new knowledge on violence dynamics in two of the most complex conflicts today and be able to suggest crucial lessons for similar (post-)war contexts in other parts of the world.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 30/09/2022

    Corona Conflicts? Analysing Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Conflict in Africa

    At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, decision-makers warned that the pandemic might lead to more violent conflict in fragile states, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This project engages in a mixed-methods approach to study related relationships.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022

    Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

    Director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs / Editor GIGA Focus Africa

    Mora Deitch

    Research Fellow

    Team

    Selman Almohamad

    Research Fellow

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. André Bank

    Senior Research Fellow

    Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

    Director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs / Editor GIGA Focus Africa

    Dr. Sara Bazoobandi

    Research Fellow

    Yannick Deepen

    Research Fellow

    Mora Deitch

    Research Fellow

    Hayat Douhan

    Research Fellow

    Dr. Tim Glawion

    Research Fellow

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Dr. Jens Heibach

    Research Fellow

    Asma Khalifa

    Doctoral Researcher / Representative of Doctoral Researchers

    Markus A. Kirchschlager

    Doctoral Researcher

    Julia Köbrich

    Doctoral Researcher

    Tom Konzack

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. David Kuehn

    Senior Research Fellow / Coordinator GIGA Forum

    Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

    Lead Research Fellow / General Editor GIGA Focus Editor GIGA Focus Global

    Nora Kürzdörfer

    Doctoral Researcher

    Désirée Reder

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Thomas Richter

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Accountability and Participation" Editor GIGA Focus Middle East

    Wolfgang Rudischhauser

    Diplomat in Residence and Fellow

    Dr. Marika Sosnowski

    Research Fellow

    Juliana Tappe Ortiz

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Christian von Soest

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Peace and Security"

    Alex Waterman

    Research Fellow

    Prof. Dr. Eckart Woertz

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies


    Research Teams

    The researchers in the Peace and Security Programme 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.

    Spokesperson Team 1

    Dr. Sara Bazoobandi

    Research Fellow



    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.

    Spokesperson Team 2



    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.

    Spokesperson Team 3 (interim)

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher


    President

    Prof. Dr. Amrita Narlikar is President of the GIGA. Her research focuses on international negotiations, economic statecraft, and multilateralism. She has a special interest in India, Asia, and the BRICS.

    Office of the President

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