Conflict Platform collaborates with the UN System Staff College

The Changing Character of War Centre at Oxford University is collaborating on the UN System Staff College course Analysing and Understanding Non-state Armed Groups” by integrating findings and tools from the Changing Character of Conflict Platform into the course content. The course equips UN personnel with theoretical and practical skills to analyse and understand the genesis and evolution of unconventional armed groups in violence-affected countries.

Dr Annette Idler serves as the academic lead for the courses. By focusing on multidisciplinary investigative approaches, this course explores the political context driving the genesis of armed violence and the forces shaping group cohesion, resource strategies, internal structures and levels of violence. The course aims at building the capacity of UN staff to better understand the nature and actors of current armed violence.

The target audience is midlevel UN personnel but the course s also open to INGOs, NGOs, academia, think tanks, donor representatives etc.

Enrollment deadline: 16 October
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Concept to Capability - latest articles available on CCW website

Three articles have been added to CCW’s Russia & Nordic Baltic Defense & Security Research project in advance of the state of Michaelmas Term

  • Factors Influencing Russian Force Modernization by Dr. Lester Grau and Charles K. Bartles

  • ‘From Concept to Capability’: the Russian Approach to Capability Development by Carl Scott

  • From Non-State to Proto-State: How the Islamic State Turned its Concept into Capabilities by Florence Gaub

Outcome of ConPeace workshop published in LASA Quarterly

Dr Jan Boesten has coordinated a section in the Summer issue of Latin American Studies Association's Quarterly Newsletter based on a workshop run by CCW project ConPeace. The full LASA newsletter is available here.

Dr Boesten's section on "Challenges in Colombia's Changing Security Landscape" includes the following articles:

Toward a Shared Vision of Peace
Magali Alba Niño, Jan Boesten, Annette Idler, Juan Masullo, Arlene B. Tickner, Julia Zulver

De 310 páginas a una paz transformadora: El reto de la paz territorial en Colombia
Borja Paladini Adell

Notes on the Implementation of the Peace Agreement in Colombia: Securing a Stable and Lasting Peace
Juan Carlos Restrepo

Perspectiva de la sociedad civil de regiones marginadas ¿Cómo podemos empoderar a las comunidades locales para enfrentar los desafíos de seguridad?
Magali Alba-Niño

Abstract: The University of Oxford’s CONPEACE (From Conflict Actors to Architects of Peace) Program at the Changing Character of War Centre, together with Bogota’s Rosario University and the Simon Bolívar University in Cúcuta, organized a one-day, cross-stakeholder workshop in Bogotá prior to the presidential elections to discuss the changing security landscape in Colombia. The workshop brought together stakeholders from Colombia’s civil society (both urban and rural), the UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the UN Mission to Colombia (as representatives of the international community), the national government, and national and international academics. This article explores some of the most important insights from our debates. Three points were essential: first, our understanding of security issues can benefit greatly from employing human and citizen security lenses that go beyond mere military presence throughout the national territory; second, the peace process with the FARC is not reversible and should be seen as an opportunity for the new government to create sustainable peace; third, the national government can learn from the collective action and community organizing of civil society in marginalized regions to improve long-term, people-centered security.

Melissa Skorka Highly Commended in Vice-Chancellor's Innovation Awards

The winners of the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards have been announced at an awards ceremony in Pembroke on 12 July.

Melissa Skorka, DPhil candidate with CCW, was highly commended in the Early Career Category for her project, 21st Century Terrorist Political Adaptation to Western Policy.

This project has created new synergies between academia and public institutions, while promoting Oxford’s Changing Character of War Programme as a world-leader in policy-relevant research-led innovation. The project has combined historical and political analysis of the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, showing the impact of U.S. policy evolution, not least through its use of human shields and manipulation of Pakistan’s state strategies. This notorious movement itself is a product of a symbiosis between traditional clan polity and modern sub-state actors, but practices a very modern form of coercive politics. The Haqqani pursues its own line of policy, yet uses a combination of old and new methods of war to achieve it. Promoting novel ways of addressing this subject – terrorist political adaptation to Western policy – fits exactly with Oxford’s innovation strategy and the contemporary challenge of global security.

If resolutions to the violent path of Haqqani could be found, it would present us with a set of tools for the more effective analysis and applied knowledge of conflict termination in other parts of the world. This project has been acknowledged by the National Security Advisor of the U.S. administration, resulting in adjustments in U.S. foreign policy.

As a University, we are committed to global leadership in knowledge exchange, innovation and entrepreneurship, ensuring our research, scholarship and teaching contribute to the good of the nation and the world.

— Professor Louise Richardson Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

Published Chapter from Prof Christopher Bellamy

A new edited volume, Britain and Victory in the Great War, has just been published which includes a chapter from one of our current Visiting Research Fellows. 

book cover.jpg

Professor Christopher Bellamy contributed Chapter 11: 'Redoubtable Adversary:  Bolshevik Catastrophe:  Imperial Russia's Forgotten Role in the Achievement of Allied Victory',

Britain and Victory in the Great War, edited by Peter Liddle, Pen and Sword Barnsley, S Yorks, 2018, 

Two Literary Festival Appearances for Dr Andrew Monaghan

Dr Andrew Monaghan will be presenting his book, Power in Modern Russia at the Felixstowe Book Festival on 30th June. If you have ever thought it important to understand what is happening in Russia, take the opportunity to hear from one of the UK’s leading experts as Andrew Monaghan unravels the Russian leadership’s strategic agenda and illuminates the range of problems it faces in implementing its ambitions. With presidential elections looming, he maps out the evolution underway in Russian domestic politics and explains the various factions.

Dr Monaghan will also be at the Lewes Speakers Festival on 22 July. He will appear in discussion first with Dr Florence Gaub on her new book The Cauldron: NATO's Campaign in Libya; and then in discussion with LTG (red) Ben Hodges, former Commander of US Army Europe, on his book, What does Russia's resurgence mean for Euro-Atlantic security?

Latest Russia articles and reviews available on CCW website

A very productive month for CCW's Russia & Nordic Baltic Defense & Security Research project has produced 2 articles, 2 book reviews and our latest Russia brief.

Dr Monaghan has also updated his Russia Reading List

Thanks to Adam Roberts for his engaging lecture: 'Causes of Wars, Old & New'


On Wednesday 24 May Professor Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA gave the CCW Annual Lecture on the subject, "Causes of War, Old and New".  Adam Roberts is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, and Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He was one of the founding members of CCW and served on its Academic Board before his retirement, and is now Honorary Fellow and Member of the CCW Advisory Board. It was an honour to have Professor Roberts speak at this key CCW event.

Professor Roberts considered various definitions of war, previous theories on causes and he proposed 33  causes. He suggests that the absence of a unified theory of the causes of war is not a disaster. However, the present period of growing nationalism and great power rivalry forces us to look again at the causes of international as well as non-international armed conflicts. Afterwards, Professor Roberts gave considered answers to wide ranging questions from the audience.

Dr Annette Idler recognised at Excellence in Impact Awards 2018

Congratulations to CCW's Dr Annette Idler, who received a 'Highly Commended' award at the inaugural O2RB Excellence in Impact Awards for her work on Changing Character of Conflict: Violent Non-State Actors and Borderlands. 


Dr Idler's research on the Colombian Peace Process focuses on the role of non-violent state groups in the evolving climates of conflict, security and transnational organised crime. It combines ethnographic fieldwork with wider theoretical debates on security, and this 'glocal' approach to people-centred security has helped support the major partners in the Colombian Peace Process. The impact of Dr Idler's research has been to reduce conflict and civilian suffering in Colombia and other conflict zones, as well as to help shape the debate on that and wider conflicts.

Dr Idler was presented with the Highly Commended Early Career Impact Award at a ceremony at St Anne's College, Oxford. The O2RB Excellence in Impact awards are a collaborative iniitiative between the University of Oxford, the University of Reading, the Open University and Oxford Brookes University to foster and celebrate achievements in social science research beyond academia. 

Congratulations to Lt Gen Sir John Kiszely in being the first recipient of the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History.

General Kiszely, member of the CCW Advisory Board, has been named as the first recipient of the Duke of Wellington Medal by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for his book, Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940. The winner emerged from a strong shortlist of authors writing on military history. 

RUSI's Duke of Wellington Medal aims to reward on an annual basis the best English language writing on military history, interpreted widely to include the role of the armed forces, the conduct of wars, and the impact of conflict on nations and societies, over any period up to the present day.

Anatomy of a Campaign (Cambridge University Press) looks at the British campaign in Norway in 1940, which was widely considered an ignominious and abject failure. General Kiszely draws on his own experience of working at all levels in the military to assess the campaign as a whole, its context and evolution from strategic failures, the intelligence blunders and German air superiority to the performance of the troops and the serious errors of judgement by those responsible for the higher direction of the war. His book contributes to the understanding of not only the outcome of the Norwegian campaign but also why more recent military campaigns have found success so elusive.

CCW Annual Lecture 2018: 'Causes of Wars, Old & New' by Professor Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA

CCW Annual Lecture 2018
Wednesday 23rd May, 5.00pm
Pichette auditorium, Pembroke College, Oxford, OX1 1DW


By Professor Sir Adam Roberts KCMG FBA

The causes of both civil and international wars have long been the subject of much debate and also academic study. Numerous methodologies have been employed, including those of the anthropologist, the demographer, the economist, the meteorologist, the philosopher, the psychologist, the social scientist, and the strategist. Each of them sheds light on the subject, but none provides on its own a satisfactory answer to the very wide-ranging question of what causes wars – and also how they can be prevented. Adam Roberts suggests that the absence of a unified theory of the causes of war is not a disaster. However, the present period of growing nationalism and great power rivalry forces us to look again at the causes of international as well as non-international armed conflicts.

Adam Roberts is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, and Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He was one of the founding members of CCW and served on its Academic Board before his retirement, and is now Honorary Fellow and Member of the CCW Advisory Board.

Sir Adam was President of the British Academy (2009-13). He is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics & Political Science (1997- ), of St Antony's College Oxford (2006- ), and of the University of Cumbria (2014- ). He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by King's College London (2010), Aberdeen University (2012), Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo (2012), and Bath University (2014). He is a Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011- ), and a Member of the American Philosophical Society (2013- ). He was a member of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London (2002-8); member of the UK Defence Academy Advisory Board (2003-15); and member, Board of Advisers of the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare, at the United States Military Academy, West Point, September 2016– .

Sir Adam remains actively engaged in research and is a regular speaker at CCW events. His main research interests are in the fields of international security, international organizations, and international law (including the laws of war). He has also worked extensively on the role of civil resistance against authoritarian regimes and foreign rule, and on the history of thought about international relations. 

Dr Annette Idler's Research on International Security Architecture featured in World Economic Forum update

Dr Annette Idler's research on codifying the current international security architecture was mentioned this week in the World Economic Forum's weekly members' update, 'In Focus', which is circulated to around 5,000 experts worldwide.

"In November of 2017, at the annual meeting of the Council in Dubai, Council member Dr. Annette Idler of the University of Oxford—an expert on conflict, security, and transnational crime—presented a paper codifying the current international security architecture. The Council agreed to use present trends to develop scenarios for the future, which led to three connected presentations at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last month."

Dr Idler's paper is available to read here.


Annette Idler speaking at Balliol College's Lady Dervorguilla Seminar

Lady Dervorguilla Seminar

'The Convergence of Conflict and Organised Crime' by Dr Annette Idler

23 February 2018, 8.00pm
Middle Common Room, Holywell Manor (no disabled access)

Dr Annette Idler (Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations) will give a talk on ’The Convergence of Conflict and Organised Crime’.

In this talk, Dr Idler unpacks the intricate relationships between armed conflict and transnational organised crime. She demonstrates how tracing illicit supply chains reveal security challenges that are analytical blind spots to conventional frameworks on the ‘crime-conflict nexus’. These challenges include first, the mismatch of local and global perceptions that undermines the perceived legitimacy of governments; second, the persistence of illicit power structures throughout war and peace time; and third, the interconnectedness of multiple forms of organised crime that perpetuate conflict and fuel wider insecurity.

Annette Idler is the Director of Studies at the Changing Character of War Centre, Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, and at the Department of Politics and International Relations, and Affiliate at the Latin American Centre, all University of Oxford. She is the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council’s Fellow on International Security and Research Associate at the Graduate Institute Geneva’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. Dr Idler’s work focuses on the interface of conflict, security, transnational organized crime and peacebuilding. Drawing on ethnographic methods in her research, over the past decade, she has conducted extensive fieldwork in and on the war-torn and crisis-affected borderlands of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, including more than 600 interviews with local stakeholders. Her work appeared in journals such as Stability: International Journal of Security and Development and Perspectives on Terrorism and her book Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War  is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Dr Idler advises governments and international organizations, is a regular expert for media outlets such as Al Jazeera, BBC and the Washington Post, and has published numerous policy briefs. Dr Idler previously worked with UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the German development cooperation. She holds a doctorate from the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, and an MA in International Relations from King’s College London’s Department of War Studies.

CCW in the News: Richard Harknett's Seminar on 'The Distribution of Power in Cyberspace'

Richard Harknett's talk on 'The Distribution of Power in Cyberspace: Adjusting to the new seam of power competition' as part of this term's CCW Tuesday lunchtime seminar series was mentioned in an article about his appearance before the Senate last week.

"Harknett most recently returned from a three-country tour where he spoke on cybersecurity and government topics to the Royal War Studies Society at the Dutch Ministry of Defence, on the “Changing Character of War” at Oxford University and in briefings with the office of the president of Slovenia..." 

Read the full article here:

Congratulations to former CCW Visiting Fellow, Doug Delaney, on the release of 'The Imperial Army Project'

Congratulations to former CCW Visiting Fellow, Doug Delaney, whose book, The Imperial Army Project, has been released by Oxford University Press. 

The Imperial Army Project
Britain and the Land Forces of the Dominions and India, 1902-1945

Douglas E. Delaney

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 09.16.25.png
  • The first major study of the British imperial army project, fostering a greater understanding of how the military system of the British Empire functioned
  • Uncovers how a vast military coalition, encompassing multiple countries and systems across five decades worked successfully
  • Takes a long-term perspective, from the end of the Edwardian era to the completion of the Second World War
  • Explores hitherto-untapped archival collections across six countries to offer fresh insight on how the military establishments of the United Kingdom, India, and the dominions related to each other and worked together

Doug Delaney's book will be available from OUP from 4 March 2018. 

Congratulations to Steve Coulson for publishing his new paper: 'Lanchester Modelling of Intelligence in Combat'

Congratulations to CCW Visiting Research Fellow, Steve Coulson, whose paper on 'Lanchester Modelling of Intelligence in Combat' has just been published online at:

The print version of his paper will be released shortly. 

Abstract: While the utility of intelligence as force multiplier during warfare is widely accepted there have been few attempts to quantify its benefits. In this paper Lanchester combat models are developed to understand how superiority in intelligence can compensate for an inferior force ratio and how the time for one side to defeat the other is affected by the use of intelligence. It is found that intelligence does act as a force multiplier; however, its utility to compensate for inferior force ratio is less than commonly appreciated, proportional to the square root of the relative advantage in intelligence. Similarly, the time to defeat is proportional to the inverse of the square root of the relative advantage in intelligence, so that greatly increasing one side’s superiority in intelligence only produces a modest decrease in the time to defeat. The Lanchester combat models are extended to a hyperbolic system of partial differential equation (PDE) to investigate how intelligence influences manoeuvre warfare. These suggest that high tempo attacking operations are less sensitive to the effects of intelligence than slower operations.