Our core Expertise
Aside from conflict dynamics, BICC is concerned with the causes and repercussions of violent conflicts. This approach allows us to go beyond the immediate concerns of violent conflicts and analyse the intricate characteristics that will influence violent conflicts of tomorrow. We are equally concerned with establishing knowledge to help transform or stop violent conflict and reduce the levels of actual violence levels as with prevention.
Any distinction between "conditions", "dynamics", and "consequences" of violent conflicts is highly artificial and abstract. All three dimensions frequently interact strongly with one another, making it difficult to separate them along the implied linear, chronological axis.
The fundamental rationale for employing them is to broaden the scope of studying violent conflicts beyond the mere exchange of violence between opposing sides. They are the foundation for identifying our research and advisory work's general lines and objectives.
Conditions, dynamics, and consequences of violent conflicts
Violent conflict conditions refer to all the factors that contribute to and enable violent conflict—during, before, and after the breakout of violence. Three factors are important here:
First, societal inequalities, among other things, can lead to violent conflict. For example, environmental changes and socioeconomic structures can cause or sustain conflict.
Second, degrees of social coherence and fragmentation are related to the likelihood of violent conflict. Conflicts are frequently fueled by political polarisation, radicalisation, and nationalist, racist, patriarchal, and dehumanising worldviews in societies, that is, symbolic practises that legitimise either direct violence or the reproduction of inequalities based on, for example, wealth, gender, sexuality, ethnic positioning, or other perceived differences.
Third, violent conflict between groups of people requires the development, establishment, and control of the means and institutions necessary for using physical force. This comprises various weapon systems, military technologies, armed forces, police, and non-state armed groups.
Thus, the material resources and structures of organised violence, deliberate policies, social inequalities, and hate speech create the conditions for violent conflict.
BICC aims to investigate the intricate interrelationships between all of these enabling factors. In doing so, we aim to better understand the development and persistence of violent conflicts and strengthen skills for early warning, strategic foresight, and prevention.
The Dynamics of violent conflict are centred on actual acts of violence and their connections to shifting social relations and power structures. This includes the concrete actions of various actors, whether they are direct participants in the conflict and the broader policies and strategies that shape them. Third-party international or transnational involvement in conflict-affected contexts, such as humanitarian relief efforts, development programmes, peacebuilding initiatives, or military or police interventions, may be the object of research. It could also examine armed groups' mobilisation and operations, changing military theories, civil-military interactions, and the usage of weapons systems and technologies.
One goal of BICC's research into the dynamics of violent conflicts is to uncover the factors that explain either the intensification or de-escalation and cessation of violence. The knowledge gathered may help to design more effective ways to ensure nonviolent conflict resolution, such as enhancing armaments control and developing new mechanisms for communication, reconciliation, and peacebuilding between opposing parties.
The short- and long-term effects of violence and the various challenges they produce are referred to as the Consequences of violent conflicts. They do not always relate to a time 'after' the violent conflict but to all the immediate and indirect effects of a specific act of violence, including social inequalities.
During the conflict, the civilian population bears the brunt of the destruction, which is deliberately targeted. Women, for example, are often affected differently than men by violent conflict. LGBTQIA+ people may also experience conflict in ways that heterosexual and cis people do not. Beyond the immediate and short-term consequences, the aftermath of large-scale violent conflict affects communities over long periods and across enormous distances, sometimes traumatising entire generations. Forced displacement following conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa has also been felt in BICC's home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but to a considerably smaller extent.
Social orders that emerge from conflict and violence may produce structural inequalities, discursive constructs, and policies that set the conditions for future outbreaks of violence. We hope to give meaningful recommendations on dealing with the aftermath of violence and increase the possibilities for long-term peace by investigating the multiple ramifications of violent conflict.
BICC specializes in conducting research and providing advisory services on the intricate matters related to violent conflict. Our primary areas of focus encompass:
Topics and Dimensions in Violent Conflict Research
It is important to note that while these specific topics may not encompass all aspects related to gaining a thorough understanding of violent conflict, they have been selected based on our internal expertise, research interests, and preferred approach. These five topics serve as the central focus for BICC's ongoing project work and guide our strategy in seeking new projects between 2024 and 2028.
Several of these may be relevant to the conditions or outcomes associated with violent conflict, while others focus more on the actual dynamics of the conflict.