Institutional legacies of violent conflict

This project seeks to increase understanding among policymakers, academics and practitioners of how institutional dynamics that develop during violent conflicts shape state-building and economic development trajectories in the long run, in order to provide policy guidance on achieving SDG 16.


While peace and stability are central to the prosperity and security of countries and their citizens, we currently have limited understanding of how and why violent conflicts persist, how and why their legacies endure across time, and what can be done to reduce the risk and impact of violence.This project will contribute to changes in conceptual understanding and policy discourse on how the different political dynamics and processes of institutional change that take place during (and due to) conflict shape state-building, economic development, and the persistence of the conflict and its legacies in the future.

To this purpose, the project will offer new comparative evidence on linkages between wartime institutions and post-conflict economic development, including the interaction between conflict dynamics, COVID-19 and associated policies to contain it. This evidence will be used to identify entry points and to influence the implementation of more effective interventions and policies by governments as well as international and grassroot organizations to build strong and inclusive state institutions, which will support the transition of countries from violence and instability to sustainable peace.

The project will include theory-building combined with the use of empirical data at the individual, household, community and national levels. It is organized around two thematic areas: (1) The effect of war dynamics on state-building trajectories in post-conflict countries, and (2) Linkages between wartime institutions and post-conflict economic development. In addition, the project has cross-cutting themes on the interactions between conflict dynamics, COVID-19 and associated policies to contain it, and on the rise of protests, demonstrations and riots across the globe.

The project will produce and/or commission 50--60 research papers from leading researchers in conflict analysis, peacebuilding and related fields by the end of 2022. 

Key questions
  • Why do some war-affected countries establish politically stable governments, while others continue to endure cycles of violence and conflict? What explains this variation in the political trajectories of war-torn countries?
  • How and when does governance emerge in war zones and what forms does it take? What are its legacies for state-building and economic recovery of post-conflict countries?
  • How does the institutional legacy of conflict affect patterns of economic growth and development in post-conflict countries?
  • What role does the intergenerational transmission of violence play in the social and economic recovery of conflict-affected countries?
  • How do different groups – defined across gender, age, ethnicity and religious beliefs – experience violence, their consequences and contribute to peace and state-building?
  • What is the relationship between economic and health shocks and violent conflict, peacebuilding and economic recovery interventions in post-conflict settings – and when do shocks result in the renewal of violence and conflict?
  • How can failures in governance be avoided during COVID-19 to ensure the sustainability of peace and security?
See a list of collaborating researchers and research paper topics here (to be updated on a rolling basis).
Watch this space

All papers, data, opinion pieces and opportunities to engage relating to this project will be available on this web page.

UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The research will address SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions