In the last decade, maintaining peace and security has become further complicated by an increase in the violence perpetrated no longer exclusively by national armies and armed oppositions but also by an increasingly assertive and brutal range of hybrid actors, such as illegal armed groups, criminal organizations, and transnational networks of illicit trafficking. The impact is so significant that the violence resulting from these situations exceeds many on-going civil wars.

Analyzing and understanding these new types of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) presents novel analytical and practical challenges for the UN. The Changing Character of War Centre at Oxford University collaborates on this project by integrating findings and tools from the Changing Character of Conflict project into the course content. Dr. Annette Idler is 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. 



Upon successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Apply enhanced capacity to analyse and understand non-state armed groups;
  • Benefit from strengthened ability to analyse the evolution, composition, motives and interests of armed groups;
  • Be equipped with country examples and good practices in analysing non-state armed groups.

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

The course will engage participants with adult learning methodologies, characterized by an engaging and interactive training style. Case studies will allow the practical application of analytical frameworks to real-life situations.

Course Contents

Course Contents: 

Day 1 focusses on issues, challenges and the changing global context. It provides the theoretical and analytical foundations to understand the genesis and evolution of unconventional armed groups.
Day 2 and Day 3 focus on tools and methodologies required to understand the above and the application on a real context.
Day 4 aims at pulling it all together.

The training uses concrete country cases and real-life examples to look at recruitment strategies, rebel governance, economic incentives underlying group formation, the role of rituals and memory in forging group cohesion, and a range of tools anf approaches drawn from ethnographics methods, plotical economy analysis, anthropology and psychology anongst others. This analytical framework presents a great opportunity for increasing the understanding of unconventional armed groups.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

Mid-level UN personnel (both national and international staff) who are either deployed in duty stations that are affected by the presence of armed groups or whose job description involves the analysis, interaction, and possibly engagement with armed groups.

Open to INGOs and NGOs, Academia, Think tanks, Donor Representatives, International Financial Institutions, Foundations etc.

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

The course fee is USD 2000. Sponsoring organisations are responsible for the travel and accommodation of their participating staff.

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