New Article ‘Non-Violence and Civilian Agency in Communal War: Evidence from Jos, Nigeria’

My article on non-violence and local peacebuilding during ethno-religious conflict in the city of Jos in central Nigeria, published in African Affairs, is now available online before print here.

This article analyses violence and non-violence in two almost contiguous neighbourhoods that share ethnic, religious, and socio-economic similarities. It shows that structural factors such as geography, demography, or intervention by security forces do not predict non-violence. Rather, preventing killings was contingent on civilian agency such as leadership, social control over internal youth, and refusal to collaborate with external armed groups. Drawing on narrative interviews, the article explores motivations for violence prevention and finds that knowledge concerning the organization of violence and lived experience in conflict zones were important factors that gave leaders the ability and confidence to persuade mobilized men not to start killings. The article also discusses the gender dimension of local peace, showing how women and men contributed differently to violence prevention.

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Researching Gender, Peace and Security: A Conversation about Micro- and Macro-Dimensions

Video clip: A Research Team Conversation about the Gender Dimensions of Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding, with Team Members from Indonesia and Nigeria. For more info about this 6-year research project, see:

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Gender, Peace and Security: Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Here is the link to the timely Launch and Discussion of the edited volume  Gender, Peace and Security. Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (edited by Louise Olsson and Theodora-Ismene Gizelis), which I moderated on 18 September 2015 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.


Opening remarks:

  • Ambassador Veronika Bard, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN in Geneva, on Feminist Foreign Policy
  • Ms Ursula Keller, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)


  • Dr Louise Olsson, Folke Bernadotte Academy
  • Prof Theodora-Ismene Gizelis, University of Essex
  • Prof Håvard Hegre, Uppsala University
  • Dr. Sari Kouvo, European External Action Service
  • Moderator: Dr Jana Krause, PGGC, The Graduate Institute
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New Book Chapter on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Actors, Victims and Power

My book chapter Revisiting Protection from Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Actors, Victims, and Power, has just been published in the edited volume Gender, Peace and Security: Implementing UNSCR 1325, edited by Louise Olsson and Theodora-Ismene Gizelis.

Conflict-related sexual violence has attracted unprecedented research and policy attention. With the adoption of six UN Security Council resolutions and the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, a global framework of protection has emerged. Yet, criticism arose as to what the dominant discourse on ‘rape as a weapon of war’ and a victim-focused perspective might entail for forwarding women’s participation in the work of peace and security – the latter being the primary reason for the adoption of UNSCR 1325 in the first place. This chapter discusses synergies between feminist and empirical research findings and implications for prevention.

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New Publication on Women’s Peace Activism in Syria and beyond

My article, ‘A Wealth of Expertise and Lived Experience: Conversations between International Women Peace Activists at the ‘Women Lead to Peace Summit’ preceding the Geneva II Peace Talks on Syria, January 2014’, co-authored with Cynthia Enloe, has just been published in the International Feminist Journal of Politics. 

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The Gender Dimensions of Conflict & Peacebuilding – Indonesia Kick-off Workshop and Local Researcher Training


The international research project ‘The Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding’, that I lead and coordinate, held its kick-off workshop for the research period in Indonesia on 3-4 November 2014 at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. We were delighted to have Judith Large present a keynote on this topic and welcomed a large number of scholars, practitioners and activists from various regions in Indonesia for dialogue and mutual learning.

Subsequently, a two-day research training on gender, conflict and peacebuilding and on field research and interviewing took place with researchers from Aceh, Maluku and East Java.

This project receives funding within the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development, a joint initiative of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Between 2014 and 2020, researchers from Indonesia, Nigeria and Switzerland will investigate how gender relations link to armed violence, and how international and civil society efforts can strengthen and/or constrain women’s and men’s agency for nonviolent conflict management.

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Why are combatant-aged men over-represented in Gaza casualty figures? A gender analysis could shed light on conflicting claims

Casualty numbers from conflict zones are notoriously difficult to gather and verify. According to a UN report, as of 10 August, 1,948 Palestinians have been killed, of which at least 1,402 were civilians. An analysis of these numbers by the New York Times found that “the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll. They are 9% of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34% of those killed whose ages were provided.” Why are combatant-aged men so over-represented in Gaza’s casualty figures?

Assessing estimates on civilian versus combatant deaths requires understanding of civilian behavior on the ground. A potential explanation other than combatant roles could be that families expect young men to be the first ones to leave shelters in order to care for hurt relatives, gather information, look after abandoned family homes or arrange food and water, as I suggest in a comment to a background analysis by BBC News. Furthermore, one might expect males of combat age to be over-represented in civilian casualty figures because by definition they are seen as potential combatants.

More analysis is needed to discuss and verify these numbers. A gender perspective could shed light on why casualty numbers do not mirror demographic statistics.

For more information relating to the context of international humanitarian law, see also Human Rights Watch’s Q&A on the 2014 Hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

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