Book Review: A Savage Order, by Rachel Kleinfeld

January 16, 2019
Rachel Kleinfeld is speaking in London tomorrow (Thursday 17th January) from 17.30-19.00. Book here In A Savage Order, Rachel Kleinfeld casts an unflinching eye on the many ways in which human beings physically hurt each other at a societal level. Not just war, but the much more ubiquitous everyday violence that springs from political and social breakdown, or organized crime.

What restrains extreme violence – Culture or the Law?

August 2, 2018
Ed Cairns on how advocates of international humanitarian law have started getting excited about culture and norms Do we need to get used to war? That’s the frightening question from the 2018 Armed Conflict Survey, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), launched with the blunt message that ‘peace processes are stalling… the number of armed groups is rising,’

Violence v Non Violence: which is more effective as a driver of change?

June 12, 2018
Oxfam’s Ed Cairns explores the evidence and experience on violence v non violence as a way of bringing about social change One of the perennial themes of this blog is the idea that crises may provide an opportunity for progressive change. True. But I’ve always been nervous that such hopes can forget that most conflicts cause far more human misery

What does ‘Security’ mean? Great (and well-written) paper from IDS

February 14, 2017
I have been known in the past to be a little snippy about the writing style of esteemed colleagues from the Institute of Development Studies. So in the interests of balance, I want to celebrate a beautifully written, lyrical paper by IDS’ Robin Luckham. Whose Security? Building Inclusive and Secure Societies in an Unequal and Insecure World (OK, they could

Book Review: Alex de Waal, the Real Politics of the Horn of Africa

March 1, 2016
There’s a balance to be struck in writing any non-fiction book. Narrative v information. How often do you return to the overarching storyline, the message of the book, the thing you want the reader to take away? How much information – facts, names, dates, events – do you include? Too much storyline, and the book feels flimsy. Too much information

What can violence/conflict people learn from the governance debate (and vice versa)? Report back on a day discussing new IDS research

November 18, 2015
I recently spent a day among conflict wonks (a thoroughly charming and unscary group) to discuss IDS’ research programme on Addressing and Mitigating Violence. There are piles of case studies and thematic papers on the website (here’s a collection of abstracts); this seminar was part of bringing them all together into some kind of overarching narrative. The starting point for

Today’s grimfographic: how many people die a violent death, where and how?

July 29, 2013
From Action on Armed Violence using data from the Geneva Declaration’s Global Burden of Armed Violence report (whose link seems to be down at the moment). Key points to note: Only one in 8 violent deaths occur in the ‘conflict settings’ so beloved of news coverage. Most of the rest are ‘intentional homicides’ committed in gun and drug-plagued (but supposedly

Commodities of War: What the people without guns say about life, death and fear in the DR Congo

November 20, 2012

Violence and development – what are the links?

December 2, 2011

Rape is not the only story in the Congo

January 14, 2011

What will this year’s World Development Report say about Conflict?

June 8, 2010
The WDR is published in the fall, but this year’s WDR director, Sarah Cliffe, gave a preview of its contents at Harvard recently. The Report will focus on ‘conflict affected countries’ (CACs). What most caught my attention was her typology of three types of ‘neglected violence’ that offer particular challenges for policy-makers (comments from Ed Cairns, our conflict guru, in

Cleaning up Dirty Elections – what works?

October 15, 2009
The Centre for the Study of African Economies in Oxford (home to Paul Collier, among others) is putting out some fascinating two pagers on its work, including two recent papers on ‘dirty elections’. In ‘Cleaning up Dirty Elections’ Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler go to work  on a new data set spanning nearly 30 years and 155 countries (suggesting that