Civilians in Conflict

Civilian agency and victimization in conflict and post-conflict situations

Civilian populations are often the foremost victims of contemporary conflicts. Importantly, however, historical and recent examples show how civilians can also be change makers. Civilians can promote peaceful development through various civil society initiatives, but they can also exacerbate conflicts as instigators of violence. The Civilians in Conflict research group focuses on the role of civilians before, during, and after conflict, with the aim of contributing to policies that work to improve the situation for civilian populations.

Research themes

  • Consequences of conflict and peace processes for civilian populations and civil society
  • The agency and impact of civilian actors on conflict dynamics and peace processes
  • Policies of prevention of civilian victimization.

More specifically, researchers in this group are interested in exploring inter alia:

  • The functioning of civil society and civilian group actors (including social movements, transnational networks, grassroots organizations, women's movements, entrepreneurs, and individuals) as conflict actors, peace builders, and/or veto players in transitions between violence and peace, including in popular protests and weak states
  • The impacts (positive and negative) of armed conflicts, interventions, sanctions, peace missions, transitional justice, and truth commissions on civilian populations and civil society, including population displacements, crime, and health consequences.

Research orientation

The Civilians in Conflict research group recognizes the need for a variety of research tools and approaches, ranging from formal models, via statistical empirical examinations, to ethnographic studies. To improve understanding of the role of civilians in conflict, we need rigorous data, comparative analyses, as well as in-depth understanding of contextual factors and specific local challenges. This reflects the research group's multidisciplinary approach.

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