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Complex Emergencies

The Department’s researchers on these themes include: Tim  Allen, Stuart Gordon, David Keen, Mary Kaldor, James Putzel, Rajesh Venugopal, as well as numerous doctoral students.

Complex emergencies involve various sources of stress and crisis in developing societies. They include civil war, state collapse, genocide, famine and natural disasters. Research focuses on the causes of these events and the ways in which populations deal with them. We have tended to emphasise local level fieldwork, and have sought to highlight the realities of developments and experiences on the ground. We also examine the various international and national responses, including the work of humanitarian and development aid agencies, military intervention, external support for social, economic and state reconstruction, and international legal mechanisms (such at the International Criminal Court).

Recent studies have included detailed analysis of the wars in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Laos and Sri Lanka. Specific topics of interest include the new arrangements for UN funding in emergency situations, trends in bilateral aid donors' programmes in 'fragile' and post-war states, the roles of news media in war affected regions, the introduction of international criminal justice into circumstances of ongoing war, HIV/AIDS and other diseases afflicting highly vulnerable populations, population movements, peace negotiations, demobilization of armed forces, social healing, urban violence and the global implications of the so called 'war on terror'.

The Department has established the Justice and Security Research Programme , and the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit  as specific research programmes looking at new thinking and policies on these themes. These programmes build on the pre-existing Crisis States Research Centre , which was established in the early 2000s in collaboration with the UK Government’s Department for International Development.

The Department offers the MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, as well as the courses, ‘Complex Emergencies’ and ‘Managing Humanitarianism.’