House of Lords and Speakers Festival appearances for Andrew Monaghan

Dr Andrew Monaghan will give a lecture at the House of Lords on Wednesday 21st November, 4pm. Andrew will talk on: “Strategy and Mobilisation - Moscow's global view and what it means for UK national security”. The lecture is organised by the Oxford Centre for Resolution for Intractable Conflict (CRIC)

Does Russia have a Grand Strategy? Is President Putin a strategist or just a tactician, making things up from day to day? Strategy is about the creation of power, and with Russia increasingly assertive on the world stage, at war in Syria and challenging the Euro-Atlantic community, and UK-Russia relations at another low, it is essential to understand what Russian power in the 21st Century means. This session will discuss Russian power, the nature and implications of Russian mobilisation, and how Russian domestic and foreign policies are linked.

The lecture is free but registration is essential:

Andrew will also be appearing at the Chichester Speakers Festival on Friday 16th November. He will speak with LTG (ret) Ben Hodges on the question “What does Russia’s resurgence mean for Euro-Atlantic security?” Tickets are available to purchase online.

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Annette Idler's Borderlands Battles published

Dr Annette Idler’s first book, Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia's War, has been published with Oxford University Press and is now available for pre-order.

The post-cold war era has seen an unmistakable trend toward the proliferation of violent non-state groups -variously labelled terrorists, rebels, paramilitaries, gangs, and criminals- near borders in unstable regions especially. In Borderland Battles, Annette Idler examines the micro-dynamics among violent non-state groups and finds striking patterns: borderland spaces consistently intensify the security impacts of how these groups compete for territorial control, cooperate in illicit cross-border activities, and replace the state in exerting governance functions. Drawing on extensive fieldwork with more than 600 interviews in and on the shared borderlands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, where conflict is ripe and crime thriving, Idler reveals how dynamic interactions among violent non-state groups produce a complex security landscape with ramifications for order and governance, both locally and beyond. A deep examination of how violent non-state groups actually operate with and against one another on the ground, Borderland Battles will be essential reading for anyone involved in reducing organized crime and armed conflict-some of our era's most pressing and seemingly intractable problems.


Global Illicit Trade Summit report

Annette Idler spoke at the Global Illicit Trade Summit, hosted by the Economist in Abu Dhabi on 30th October.

The event was reviewed in UAE national Newspaper.

In Colombia, the cocaine trade has helped fuel conflict, as has opium in Myanmar. Sierra Leone has endured years of conflict funded by the diamond trade. The lines between legitimate trade and the illicit markets are often blurred, and there is a Robin Hood image of some of these warlords operating in combat zones.
— Annette Idler

New edited book from Rob Johnson: "The United Kingdom’s Defence After Brexit"

The United Kingdom’s Defence After Brexit: Britain’s Alliances, Coalitions, and Partnerships, Johnson, Robert, Matlary, Janne Haaland (Eds.) has been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

It includes a chapter from Rob Johnson on UK Defence Policy: The ‘New Canada’ and ‘International by Design’

Co-editor Professor Janne Matlary is a former visiting fellow of CCW. The book includes a chapter form Matlary as well as other former CWW visiting fellows, Dr Tormod Heier and Dr Jeffrey Michaels.

Russian response to CCW article

New edited book from Rob Johnson - "Before Military Intervention"

Before military Intervention: Upstream Stabilisation in Theory and Practice has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. The volume is edited by Dr Timothy Clack (St Peters College, Oxford) and CCW’s Dr Robert Johnson.

The book includes on introduction chapter from Johnson and Clack entitled Anticipating Future Stabilisation. Johnson also writes an essay on Future stabilisation Strategy and the Changing Upstream Environment.

CCW’s Annette Idler is included with an essay on Improving Responses to Protracted Conflict: Why Borderlands Matter for Upstream Engagement.

Before Military Intervention is available from 28 October 2018

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. 

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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?

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.