Past projects

Current or recently completed GIC Projects include:


Engendering security in peacekeeping missions

Research Team: Dr Paul Higate, Politics, Bristol, Dr Marsha Henry, SPS, Dr Gurch Sanghera, Politics

Funding: ESRC funding awarded as part of the New Security Challenges programme

Summary: Set against the backdrop of the growing number of reports documenting the sexual exploitation of local females by male peacekeepers in Peace Support Operations (PSOs), this research aims to develop a broader understanding of the impact of male peacekeepers on both female and male beneficiaries through the lens of gendered relations. As part of the ESRC's New Security Challenges Programme, the research explores the ways in which female and male beneficiaries discuss their perceptions and experiences of security within the context of the presence of peacekeepers as part of a wider PSO. The research is informed by a comparative dimension and considers the PSOs in Cyprus, Liberia and East Timor. As well as contributing to understandings of the gender-dynamics shaping security in PSOs, our work aims to develop more theoretical considerations of security. In this way, we will be developing thinking that takes the human-geographical concepts of space and place as point of departure. Our concern here is to capture the ways in which beneficiaries experience the security provided by peacekeepers as somewhat ephemeral and contingent when framed spatially. Overall, through adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we hope to contribute to understandings of the nexus linking gender, security and its social-spatial dimensions.

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The privatisation of security governance

Researcher: Dr. Elke Krahmann

Funding: United States Institute of Peace grant no. RW8996

Summary: Since the end of the Cold War, new security threats, differences in the interests of states and increasing pressures from limited resources have favoured the increasing differentiation of security policy making and implementation. In the transatlantic community, these pressures have led to the reform, expansion and progressive division of security functions among NATO, the European Union and the OSCE. One aspect which has so far been underexamined, however, is the growing role of private actors in the provision of security. This research project analyses how private actors are involved in contemporary security policy making in North America and Europe. Specifically, it addresses three questions: (1) how does the privatisation of security governance change our understanding of security? (2) how does the growing role of private actors affect the making and implementation of security policies? (3) what problems are associated with the private provision of security? (4) how can these problems be successfully resolved? The implications of the answers to these questions for security policy making in the United States and Europe are wide ranging. In particular, they should help to identify ways in which the competing demands of growing global security commitments on one hand, and diminishing financial resources on the other hand can be reconciled without undermining the accountability and effectiveness of Western security policies.

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The commodification of security

Researcher: Dr. Elke Krahmann

Funding: ESRC grant no. RES/000/22/1516

Summary: Following allegations that private security guards were involved in the torture of Iraqi prisoners and in the wake an attempted coup by private mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea, the proliferation of so-called Private Military Companies has been at the fore of the public and academic debate. However, so far little theoretical research has been conducted on the commodification of security. This project proceeds from the proposition that the marketisation and commodification of security, respectively defined as the competitive provision of security by private actors and the transformation of security into a product for sale, has important consequences for the theory and practice of national and international security policy making. In particular, it investigates four interconnected developments and its policy implications:

  • The progressive deterritorialisation of security as both threats and the provision of security are no longer associated with states, but groups and individuals.
  • The emergence of risk management, that is the shift from addressing existing security threats to managing perceived and unknown future risks.

  • The individualisation of security as the requirements of a private market turn security from a collective good into a divisible and exclusionary property.

  • The depoliticisation of security policy making as states share or pass on responsibility for the provision of security to the market.

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UNHCR's returnee and reintegration programme in Southern Sudan

Research Team: Prof Mark Duffield, University of Bristol; Khassim Diagne, IDP Advisory Team, UNHCR; Vicky Tennant, Policy Development and Evaluation Service, UNHCR

Summary: The research involved an evaluation of UNHCR’s reintegration programme in South Sudan and Blue Nile State with the aims of a) providing an independent assessment of the effectiveness and impact of UNHCR’s operations in supporting the sustainable reintegration of returning refugees and IDPs in southern Sudan following the end of the civil war in 2005; b) making recommendations for the future orientation of the southern Sudan reintegration programme; and c) analysing the extent to which UNHCR’s reintegration policy framework is relevant and applicable in the Sudan context, and to recommend any adjustments which should be made to the revised policy framework in view of the southern Sudan experience.

Project Output: Mark Duffield, Khassim Diagne and Vicky Tennant Evaluation of UNHCR’s Returnee and Reintegration Programme in Southern Sudan. Geneva: UNHCR, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit; September 2008

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War by other means

Research Team: Dr Colleen Bell, University of Bristol; Prof Mark Duffield, University of Bristol.

Summary: This research addresses the liberal problematic of security in the post-intervention context. While military campaigns to eliminate ‘enemies’ and secure territory in the post-9/11 context have received sustained focus, equally evident but under-examined are strategies concerned with establishing broader control over a social and political environment. The governance of distant populations has become the subject of designs for international security, raising enduring questions about Western forms of bio-political management over non-Western life and space, and the politics of waging war by other means.

Project Output: In June 2008, an interdisciplinary workshop on War By Other Means was held in Bristol.

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Development and colonialism: The past in the present

Research Team: Prof Mark Duffield, University of Bristol; Dr Vernon Hewitt, University of Bristol; Dr Matt Merefield, University of Bristol.

Summary: This project explores the similarities, differences and overlaps between contemporary debates on international development and humanitarian intervention with the historical artefacts and strategies of Empire. The parallels between, for example, the language of nineteenth century liberal imperialism and the humanitarian interventionism of the post-Cold War era are striking. This research articulates the belief that these comparisons are not just anecdotal but analytically revealing. From the language of moral necessity and conviction; the design of specific aid packages; the devised forms of intervention and governmentality; through to the life-style, design and location of NGO encampments, the research seeks to account for the numerous and often striking parallels between contemporary international security, development and humanitarian intervention, and the logic of Empire.

Project Output: In the summer of 2007, three seminars were held at Bristol and, in September 2007, an interdisciplinary workshop took place. The proceedings of these seminars and workshop are being published in 2009 as Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt (eds). Empire, Development and Colonialism. James Currey.

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On the edge of no man's land: Chronic emergency in Myanmar

Research Team: Prof Mark Duffield, University of Bristol

Summary: Myanmar, or Burma as it is still usually known, remains little understood in the West. Existing knowledge mostly comes from the plight of the refugees living on the Thai border and the violence of the military regime that put them there. Rather than reworking this familiar territory, this research looks at the chronic humanitarian emergency within Myanmar. This is analysed in relation to the existence of a colonially-derived design of power operating through emergency and the exercise of arbitrary personal authority. The dynamics of totalitarian rule are examined and, in particular, how people and communities are wantonly exposed to danger and the irrelevance of their being. When coupled with the absence of an effective system of social welfare, the result is a chronic emergency that now grips Myanmar as a whole. The research also describes how aid agencies, including local NGOs, operate inside Myanmar. Despite being a difficult working environment, through an innovative application of the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency, aid agencies have succeeded creating a space for independent action. They have, for example, altered local social dynamics and improved the precarious levels of protection enjoyed by many communities. Regarding policy, rather than strengthening capacity as such, concerns should focus more on how to push back, contain or domesticate rule through emergency and the exercise of arbitrary person power.

Project Outcome: This research was supported by the Office of the UN RC/HC, Yangon and the UNOCHA, New York. A working paper entitled On the Edge of No Man’s Land: Chronic Emergency in Myanmar was produced in 2008.

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Mapping the sovereign frontier

Research Team: Prof Mark Duffield, University of Bristol

Summary: Through its association with security, development has long been a defining frontier discourse. Contingent sovereignty, especially in Africa, for example, is associated with the emergence of ‘governance states’. In such places as Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique, while territorial integrity is respected, donor governments, IFIs, UN agencies and NGOs exercise significant influence and managerial control over the design and delivery of core human security functions. In relation to failed or fragile states, it could be argued that current policy envisages transforming them into governance states. In this respect, such place as Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan, East Timor and Iraq function as laboratories for techniques to consolidate the West’s external sovereign frontier. Besides zones of crisis, this raises questions about the spatial characteristics, regional differences and nature of the frontier more widely. The research seeks to explore the nature and significance of such variations and differences.

Project Output: In September 2006, an interdisciplinary and inter-regional workshop on Mapping the Sovereign Frontier was held at Bristol.

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Human security: The public management of private agency

Research Team: Prof Mark Duffield, University of Lancaster; Nicholas Waddell, Research Assistant

Funding: ESRC Award RES-223-25-0035

Summary: Human security is understood as prioritising the security of people rather than that of states. Instead of examining human security as a measurable condition, this research focuses on how ideas of human security facilitate the way that Southern populations are understood, differentiated and acted upon by Northern institutions. Of special interest is how human security as a relation of governance has continued to evolve within the war on terrorism. In particular, how the war on terrorism is refocusing developmental resources on those sub-populations, regions and issues regarded as important for homeland security.

Project Output: Mark Duffield and Nicholas Waddell. 2006. Securing Humans in a Dangerous World. International Politics, no. 43: 1-23; Mark Duffield. Human Security: linking development and security in an age of terror. 2006. New Interfaces between Security and Development: Changing Concepts and Approaches. Stephen Klingebiel (ed), 11-38. Bonn: German Development Institute.

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The Bristol-Vietnam project

Summary: Offering path-breaking research on contemporary Vietnam and its neighbours, the Bristol-Vietnam Project stands at the interface between academia, business and policy-makers. Its aim is to provide a focal point for research on Vietnam and the Greater Mekong Sub-region, attracting leading international scholars, practitioners and postgraduate students from Vietnam and around the world.

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Security sector reform in transforming societies: Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro

Researcher: Dr Tim Edmunds, Politics Bristol

Funding: British Academy funding awarded

Summary: This project focused on structural, attitudinal and political reform in the military, police, and intelligence services in Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro. It compared the two countries’ security sector reform processes through an analysis of three key themes: democratic control of the security sector; professionalisation; and western assistance and conditionality. It analysed key factors shaping the nature and direction of the two states' respective reform processes, and in particular the relative importance of, and interplay between domestic and international influences.

Project Output: This research project led to the publication of Timothy Edmunds, Security Sector Reform in Transforming Societies: Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro with Manchester University Press in 2007.

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Reflections on the impacts of research on stakeholding in security, defence and foreign policies

Research Team: Dr Steve Webber, Politics & CGIA, Bristol, Dr Alina Zilberman, CGIA, Bristol

Funding: ESRC impact Grant

Summary: It is to examine the question of impacts in particular that the project has been conducted as part of a programme of ‘Impacts Grants’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, launched in order to understand better the ways in which UK social scientists are extending the findings of their research to the policy sphere and to society at large. Drawing on our experience of ‘bridging the gap’ between research and the policy domain in our work on the linkage between policymaking and stakeholder influences in foreign, defence and security policies, we will reflect both on the lessons to be drawn from our own research and dissemination practice, and on broader discussions, held with a wide range of stakeholders during the course of our Impact Grant, that provide important food for thought for the academic community in its efforts to render research policy relevant.

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Securitizing terrorism in Europe: Representing Islam and North Africa in European policy and the media (2004-2007)

Research Team: Dr Frederic Volpi, Politics, Bristol, Dr Jutta Weldes, Politics, Bristol, Prof. Bryan Turner, Sociology, Cambridge

Funding: ESRC funding awarded as part of the New Security Challenges programme

Summary: The increase in so-called 'Islamic terrorism' since September 11 and the demands for effective policy responses are a central element of the new security challenges facing European and other societies. However, the development of anti-terrorist and other security policies affect not only public perceptions of these Islamic groups in Europe and violence emanating from them, but also directly impact on Muslim communities at home and abroad. Without a comprehensive theoretical and empirical understanding of the dual effect of security policies, Western policies may in fact increase the very threats they seek to counter. Through an integrated set of theoretically informed empirical questions, this research will analyse this post 9/11 security dilemma. Specifically it will critically explore state constructions of so-called 'Islamic terrorism' and policies to combat this new security challenge; media representations of the threats and security policies; and the impact of both on Muslim communities. Analysing British and French government policies and EU legislation, this research examines policies towards three North African states (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) through four interlinked research elements: (1) the specific policies chosen and implemented in the UK, France and North Africa, as well as their effects on target communities; (2) media representations of the North African Islamic threat and the attendant security policies; (3) the impact of security policies and media representations on Muslim communities and their potential radicalising effects; and (4) an evaluation of the effectiveness of state responses to this brand of Islamic radicalism. This research will make a significant theoretical and empirical contribution to better constructing more effective security policies in Europe and North Africa so that they take into account the relationship between and the effect of the construction of threats and the impact of policies on the multicultural societies they are designed to protect.

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Security and governance

Research Team: Dr Abimbola Agboluaje, University of Cambridge; Alan Bryden, Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces; Prof. Mark Duffield, University of Lancaster; Dr Tim Edmunds, University of Bristol; Prof. Anthony Forster, University of Bristol; Genaro Gervasio, University of Bristol; Dr Alice Hills, University of Leeds; Dr Elke Krahmann, University of Bristol, Dr Vanessa Pupavac, University of Nottingham; Dr Frederic Volpi, University of Bristol; Dr Jutta Weldes, University of Bristol.

Summary: This research project critically examines and applies the concept of governance to security debates using fresh intellectually provocative and policy-relevant analysis. It explores the relevance of governance as a competing theoretical approach to understand the changing nature of international security in the aftermath of September 2001; it offers theoretically informed empirical case studies of security and governance debates at the international regional and sectoral levels; and the research project applies governance debates to political economic, environmental and human security challenges as well as traditional security issues.

Project Output: It will lead to a workshop in December 2004 and a special issue of the journal Conflict, Security and Development, Volume 5: 2 in 2005.

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Potential generic adversaries 2003-2033 (underway)

Research Team: Prof. Anthony Forster, GRC, Bristol; Dr Said Haddadi, GRC, Bristol, Robert Dover, GRC, Bristol, Dan Goodacre, GRC, Bristol; Christina Rowley, GRC, Bristol. In addition expertise of researchers in the wider GRC network participated in the study from: Bradford; Cranfield; Harvard; King's College London; Oxford; and St Andrews.

Summary: This study was part of the UK MoD Potential Generic Adversaries (PGA) project commissioned by the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre (JDCC). It examined 24 generic adversaries and analysed the current capabilities of these generic adversaries and how they might develop over time. The study developed a standard methodology for assessing the capabilities of PGAs over three specific time periods: the short (0-4 years), medium (5-15 years) and long term (15-30 years). For each PGA the study analysed capabilities in relation to four generic groups (UK mainland; UK deployed forces; UK national overseas interests; coalition interests). The research was then incorporated into an on-line data source to allow public access to the research findings.

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The challenge of defence transformation in Europe

Research Team: Dr Tim Edmunds, Bristol and Professor Anthony Forster, GRC.

Summary: In the post Cold War era armed forces across the globe are in a state of transition, and are engaged in an ongoing re-definition of their roles in, and their relationships with, the societies they serve. This adaptation has become a key element in the process of democratisation. In particular, the dominant spectre of a major European land war between east and west has dissipated and the principal role of armed forces has shifted from the 'traditional' military mission of defence of national territory towards other missions, notably peacekeeping and other 'humanitarian' international and domestic operations. Moreover, as the fight against terrorism becomes a more pressing priority in national and international security in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US in the autumn of 2001, the roles of armed forces are likely to need to adapt and evolve still further. Traditional understanding of civil-military relations however have been dominated by the use of concepts and approaches which were shaped by Cold War considerations, and this continues to inform the policy and academic debate -- often in the face of the declining utility of many of the concepts and ideas which are advanced. Despite the challenging times in which analysts, scholars and practitioners are living, in the last decade the academic-practitioner nexus in civil-military relations has been weak. The result has been the absence of cogent analyses of deeply significant issues for defence transformation.

Project Outputs: Workshop: The Challenge of Defence Transformation in Europe, Brdo, Slovenia, 27-30 May 2004. Edited volume: Timothy Edmunds and Marjan Malešic (eds), Defence Transformation in Europe: Evolving Military Roles, IOS Press, 2005; Article: Timothy Edmunds ‘What Are Armed Forces For? The Changing Nature of Military Roles in Europe’, International Affairs, 82:5, November 2006.

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UK homeland security and civil contingency planning

Research Team: Dr Said Haddadi GRC, Bristol; Prof. Anthony Forster, GRC, Bristol; Dan Goodacre, GRC, Bristol

Summary: Public reaction to the fuel crisis in the autumn of 2000, the foot and mouth disease and the impact of serious flooding in the first half of 2001, have all contributed to concerns about the preparedness of the UK local, regional and national governments to deal with a broad range of contingencies. Recognition of the changing nature of the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland and recent bomb attacks in a number of cities (notably in London and Birmingham in 2001), have been further catalysts in encouraging the British government to reassess the relevance of its approach to terrorism. These events have generated an urgent need for new pieces of legislation or crucial reforms of the existing legislative framework. The sense of urgency of this task has increased in intensity with the realisation of the scale and impact of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. In this post 9/11 security environment and aware of potential attacks on its mainland and overseas interests (not least because of its role as a major US ally in the war on terrorism), the UK government has taken various measures with the aim of preparing for, withstanding and recovering from threats or contingencies that might disrupt its normal functioning. This research project analysed the UK's legislative response to these challenges.

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The transformation of civil military relations in comparative context

Research Team: Prof. Anthony Forster, GRC, Bristol; Dr Andrew Cottey, Cork; Dr Tim Edmunds, Politics, Bristol

Funding: ESRC Award L213252009

Summary: This research focused on the changes in civil-military relations in central and eastern Europe following the fall of Communism from 1989 to 2002. States in this region face many of the same broad challenges of post-Communism, but are also characterised by great diversity in terms of size, geo-strategic situation, history, domestic politics, economics and their relations with the West. The aim of the research was to explore how the interaction of the common challenges of post-Communism and the diverse circumstances of individual countries shaped civil-military relations in central and eastern Europe. This comparative approach therefore addressed important gaps in the existing scholarly literature, both theoretical and empirical. Within the scholarly community, many civil-military debates have been dominated by North American models of civil-military relations, designed around very different socio-economic circumstances to those found in central and eastern Europe. In addition, the civil-military relations field has been dominated by models initially proposed in the context of the Cold War in the 1950s and 60s, with few new analytical frameworks being offered to understand and explain contemporary armed forces-society relations. This research attempted to address these weaknesses. In addition the research also wanted to offer research findings of relevance to policy-makers and practitioners engaged in a post 1989 process of promoting democratic models of civil-military relations in the region.


The challenge of defence transformation in Europe

Research Team: Dr Tim Edmunds, Bristol and Professor Anthony Forster, Durham (formerly GRC).

Summary: In the post Cold War era armed forces across the globe are in a state of transition, and are engaged in an ongoing re-definition of their roles in, and their relationships with, the societies they serve. This adaptation has become a key element in the process of democratisation. In particular, the dominant spectre of a major European land war between east and west has dissipated and the principal role of armed forces has shifted from the 'traditional' military mission of defence of national territory towards other missions, notably peacekeeping and other 'humanitarian' international and domestic operations. Moreover, as the fight against terrorism becomes a more pressing priority in national and international security in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US in the autumn of 2001, the roles of armed forces are likely to need to adapt and evolve still further. Traditional understanding of civil-military relations however have been dominated by the use of concepts and approaches which were shaped by Cold War considerations, and this continues to inform the policy and academic debate -- often in the face of the declining utility of many of the concepts and ideas which are advanced. Despite the challenging times in which analysts, scholars and practitioners are living, in the last decade the academic-practitioner nexus in civil-military relations has been weak. The result has been the absence of cogent analyses of deeply significant issues for defence transformation.

Project Outputs: Workshop: The Challenge of Defence Transformation in Europe, Brdo, Slovenia, 27-30 May 2004. Edited volume: Timothy Edmunds and Marjan Malešic (eds), Defence Transformation in Europe: Evolving Military Roles, IOS Press, 2005; Article: Timothy Edmunds ‘What Are Armed Forces For? The Changing Nature of Military Roles in Europe’, International Affairs, 82:5, November 2006.

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