The Conflict and Peace Processes Research Group (CoPP)

The Conflict and Peace Processes Research Group (CoPP)brings together scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches with a shared interest in studying the origins, nature, dynamics, and impact of violent conflict and peace processes around the globe.

Our engagement with conflict and peace processes are both academic and practical, and we advance scholarly knowledge and understanding and actively contribute to public debates and policy discussions on and in a variety of conflict-affected contexts, including with regard to the structure and psychology of negotiations and mediation processes, constitutional design, institutional reform, the accommodation of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, and the sequencing and resourcing of war-to-peace transitions.

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Contact us

Dr Giuditta Fontana: 


Separatist conflict: Lessons for security in Europe and beyond (ESRC Impact Acceleration Account) 

This project identified and consolidated insights from research into protracted separatist conflicts and translated them into useful knowledge to improve policy- and decision-makers’ understanding of Russia’s war against Ukraine and associated challenges to European and global security. The project involved producing a policy report which was presented and discussed at an online briefing for committee specialists from the House of Commons and two workshops at the University of Birmingham which brought together academics, policymakers and analysts from the FCDO, the MOD, the ICRC and thinktanks. A summary of the key ideas from the report has been published on the Social Science Birmingham blog and the report will be the basis for a journal article and further dissemination via a policy brief, including at a Knowledge Exchange workshop in autumn 2023 with the Conflict and Peace Processes Group. For more information, contact Dr George Kyris and Dr Nicholas Barker.

Learning from failure: tackling war recurrence in protracted peace processes (United States Institute for Peace)

Civil war is the most frequent and destructive form of armed conflict today. Nearly one third of societies that have experienced one civil war also experience a second or a third war, rising to fifty percent in cases of ethnic civil wars. However, there is a lack of research that studies causes and possible mitigation of war recurrence. Hence, this project will ask what the reasons are that lead to the collapse of a peace agreement (PA) and how can they be tackled to achieve sustainable peace. We will examine fifteen cases of peace processes during which war recurred at least once but that ultimately terminated the conflict successfully. We will analyse both PA content and implementation. The aim is to uncover (1) how shortcomings in failed PAs were identified, (2) how relevant parties addressed them in subsequent PAs and their implementation, and (3) how these changes led to peace. A first policy brief has been published by USIP. For further information, contact Dr Giuditta Fontana or Prof Stefan Wolff.

The Political Economy of Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Situations
(German Research Foundation)

Power-sharing has become a frequently employed tool for conflict-management and democratization after civil conflict. But how precisely does power-sharing bring about peace and/or democracy? What are the mechanisms through which post-conflict power-sharing works? The research project ‘The Political Economy of Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Situations’ addresses these questions through an in-depth analysis of the impact of power-sharing on the exercise of political power. Building on the existing political economy literature, it specifically examines the relationship between power-sharing and sub-national resource allocation. The research employs a mixed-method research design, combining advanced statistical research methods with qualitative field research in Liberia and Indonesia. For further information, contact Dr Martin Ottman

The Ingredients of Peace (British Academy)

Ending civil wars and promoting reconciliation in conflict-affected societies are some of the most pressing challenges we face as political scientists and practitioners. But what is the recipe for a successful peace agreement? Which ingredients (or provisions) are key to successful peace processes? The project identifies whether specific provisions consistently contribute to successful peace processes in countries affected by civil war and conflict, moving beyond the current emphasis on military and political clauses to also encompass cultural reforms. The findings of this project have been published as a journal paper and summarised in a blog post. For further information, contact Dr Giuditta Fontana.

The European Union and Contested States: Conflict, Statehood and Sovereignty in World Politics

Dr George Kyris' research focuses on conflict and unrecognised states, especially in relation to the European Union. In his latest project, he draws on discussion on discourse and sovereignty to explore a) what is the EU’s approach towards unrecognised states and the conflicts they relate to and b) what does that tell us for the way the international community understands statehood and treats those that try to claim it for themselves and the implications of these for conflict and security. His list of publications includes his book 'The Europeanisation of Contested States: The EU in northern Cyprus' (Ashgate 2015), articles for the Journal of Common Market Studies and Comparative European Politics and he has also been invited to for many mainstream media and has also offered evidence to policy-makers, including the Home Office and the House of Lords.

Education in Peace Accords 1989-2016

Despite discourses on the centrality of education to contemporary peacebuilding, many questions remain on the frequency, context and framing of education reforms in peace accords worldwide. In this project, I shed light on whether peace negotiators recognise the enormous potential of education, and are willing to deploy it in the service of peacebuilding. I generate the most extensive and fine-grained data on education in peace accords to date through a novel dataset of worldwide peace accords concluded between 1989 and 2016 and analyse it quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings of this project have been published as a journal paper and summarised in a blog post. A policy brief, underscoring the real-world implications of the findings, is also available. For further information, contact Dr Giuditta Fontana.

International Responses to Coups (1946-2021)

This project explores how states and other actors have responded to coups. The project aims to explain variation in responses, the extent to which actors collaborate and complement their responses, and the impact of international responses to democratization. For further information, contact Dr Mwita Chacha.

Identifying Coup leadership 

This is a collaborative project with Jonathan Powell (University of Central Florida). Our aim is to identify orchestrators of coups and the implications of these orchestrators on the post-coup setting, particularly how international actors respond to coups. For further information, contact Dr Mwita Chacha.

The contentious politics of the census in consociational democracies (Feb 2017 - Jan 2019)

This project, funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders fellowship, explored the relationship between the design of political institutions and the likelihood of population censuses in deeply divided societies becoming the subject of contentious political debates – a relationship that had previously received little attention from scholars. The project's primary objectives were to generate a body of scholarship on the relationship between the design of political institutions and the politics of the census in deeply divided societies, and to generate knowledge on ways to mitigate the possibility of contentious debates about the census in those societies. The research was primarily qualitative in nature and involved comparative analysis of four societies that have experienced varying degrees of contestation around the census: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Lebanon and Northern Ireland. For further information, please contact Dr Laurence Cooley.

From Elite Bargains to (More) Open and (More) Inclusive Politics

This project examines the pathways from post-conflict elite bargains towards (more) open and (more) inclusive politics. It identifies cross-cutting issues and draws out the implications of the analysis for external actors seeking to support more inclusive politics. Download the final report. For further information, please contact Dr Alina Rocha Menocal

Atmospheres of (counter)terrorism in European cities 

The project, led by PI Sara Fregonese together with partners in the UK, France and Germany, provides a new international comparison of how counterterrorism and urban security are changing the everyday experiences of residents across cities in Europe. The project is conducted by international team of researchers, led by the University of Birmingham and in collaboration with the University of Plymouth (UK), Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Germany), CY Cergy Paris Université, and Institut Paris Region (France), and has received over £1.1 million from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), France's Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project methods of research include an international survey of 15000 participants and a number of interpretive and ethnographic qualitative techniques.  

Stefan Wolff’s TED talk


Christalla Yakinthou’s TEDx talk