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The Centre brings together two strands of conflict research that were studied holistically when ‘conflict studies’ emerged in the 1960s, but have since separated: research on local, organizational, policy, and other conflicts in developed democracies and research on collective violence, civil war, and massive human rights violations.  On both sides, the Centre organizes research and practice initiatives on the factors influencing the development of conflict and on approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Humanitarian Response, Resilience and Peacebuilding

Conflicts and political violence are often accompanied by displacement, an increase in medical emergencies, shortages of basic needs, and infrastructural collapse. This is the operational terrain of humanitarianism aimed at saving lives, reducing suffering, and upholding human dignity in emergencies. Humanitarian responses are therefore an integral part of the conflict landscape and the mitigation of conflict’s impact on affected populations.

Peacebuilding is aimed at preventing the outbreak, recurrence or continuation of armed conflict. Ending and preventing civil wars and other forms of armed violence often includes peace negotiations; the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations; the protection of civilians in conflict zones; and violence prevention and reconciliation efforts. 

The humanitarian response and peacebuilding fields include a wide range of actors from states and their militaries; to UN agencies, peacekeepers, regional organizations and international NGOs; to local actors, such as civil society, women groups, or health care workers and emergency responders.

The Amsterdam Centre for Conflict Studies brings together a number of researchers and practitioners working in the field of humanitarianism and peacebuilding to explore key issues such as current and future challenges in humanitarianism and humanitarian responses to people on the move; civilian (self)-protection and well-being; the use of force in peacekeeping operations; the gender dimensions of conflict and women’s peacebuilding networks; and diverse forms of local peace and resilience building.

Conflict & Society

Research Priority Area

Research priority areas (RPA's) bring together researchers on specific research fields transcending disciplinary boundaries. At Conflict & Society, our goal is to develop a deeper and multidisciplinary understanding about the dynamics of conflict – in all its different forms. What is conflict, through which mechanisms does it emerge, and how does it impact social interactions among individuals, groups, and societies?

Bullying, political attacks and escalation

Conflict is a fundamental part of society. Yet, due to its multidimensional and diffuse nature, an integrated research agenda on conflict and its fundamental role in society remains elusive. What do seemingly unrelated phenomena such as bullying at school, political attacks between parties during election campaigns, political assassinations, or the escalation of violence and bloodshed between armed groups have in common? To what extent can these disparate phenomena be understood via an integrated framework that investigates societal dynamics through the lens of conflict between the actors at play? In short: What is conflict, through which mechanisms does it emerge, and how does it impact social interactions among individuals, groups, and societies

Evolution of conflict

The Conflict & Society RPA proposes an integrated framework to investigate the evolution of conflict across forms (violent and non-violent), and levels (groups and individuals). It tackles the two following fundamental research questions:

  • When and under which conditions do group-level conflicts lead to conflicts among individuals (top-down propagation)? And when and under which conditions does the opposite happen (bottom-up propagation)?
  • When and under which conditions does non-violent conflict turn violent (escalation)? And when and under which conditions does the opposite happen (de-escalation)?

The RPA unfolds as an incubator for fundamental research directed by the co-PIs, a framework for promoting research by the FMG community at large, and a space for pedagogical and outreach initiatives towards civil society.