This website is no longer updated. Please use the new website for the Standing Group.

Number of members: 190

A Critical Peace and Conflict Studies Standing Group begins with an empirical set of problems and then seeks an interdisciplinary approach to engaging with them, in the process developing a critique of mainstream IR, conflict theory, and peace research approaches. It is primarily concerned with the quality and nature of peace in cultural, social, economic, and political terms, ranging from the international system to the state, civil society, and below.

This Standing Group started out from the translation of external norms, institutional blueprints and biased readings of history into concrete policies in post-conflict environments. In Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Liberia and Iraq, and many other locations, peacebuilding policies are directed toward a single objective: building a free-market democracy contained within a contiguous territorial state. Broadly speaking, this approach has been termed the liberal peace and underpins international statebuilding approaches. However, efforts to consolidate peace within a liberal state framework have at best created a tenuous peace and at worse have re-entrenched conflict conditions, sown the seeds for future conflict or have already relapsed into violent conflict. Furthermore, the way in which these policies are implemented can be perceived by the target population as a neo-colonial intervention.  It is these problems with which a Critical Peace and Conflict Standing Group will engage.

Peace and Conflict Studies theory has traditionally been the purview of international relations; it is within IR that the liberal peace theory originates. One of the central objectives of Critical Peace and Conflict studies is to draw on a wide range of disciplines which have much to contribute to this particular problem. Critical Peace and Conflict Studies incorporates valuable insights from post-colonial studies, anthropology, sociology, critical geography, critical international political economy, and international relations from across Europe in order to develop a new agenda for peace and conflict studies.  It draws on a range of detailed case studies, ranging from analysis of (post-) conflict contexts to the UN system and regional and international actors.

Another central focus of Critical Peace and Conflict Studies is concerned with local peace agency, local infrastructures of peace and non-violent state formation dynamics. Local, transnational and transversal actors pursue diverse notions of peace and conflict and may assert critical peace agency, possess ‘hidden’ capacities and aspire to needs and rights that may otherwise be ignored in internationally0led peace processes. With this focus on the local, Critical Peace and Conflict Studies presents an opportunity to return a nuanced discussion of peace – which is, after all, one of the early interests and aims of IR – to the centre of the newly emerging inter-discipline.

Aims and objectives

  • To establishing a new journal to promote academic debate: In 2013 we launched the peer-reviewed journal Peacebuilding as an international, comparative, multidisciplinary journal open to articles on contemporary and historical cases. It will aim to provide in-depth analyses of the ideologies, philosophies, interests, and policies that underpin peacebuilding programmes and initiatives, and to connect with debates being held by policymakers, civil society personnel, scholars and students. Click here to access the journal or submit your our article
  • To establish an annual Summer School – bringing together the best scholars working across these areas along with interested PhD and postgraduate students in order to allow them to debate and develop these crucial research agendas. The intention is to have an intensive ten-day conference which will provide an open forum to discuss and debate the future of critical approaches to peace and conflict studies across disciplines, with contributions from across Europe and beyond. Our summer schools will be organised in (post-)conflict venues that bridge the academic dimensions with insights into the everyday life in (post-)conflict zones. The first summer school will be organised in co-operation with the University of Cyprus in Nicosia in July 2014.
  • To reach and to engage with scholars and students from the global south through Standing Group events, such as our Annual Conference of Peace and Conflict Studies. This conference takes place at the University of Manchester annually in September. For more information on this and other Standing Group events, plus the latest call for papers visit our Standing Group news page.
  • To highlight the work of leading scholars and make it accessible to policy-makers, students and the wider public: In January 2014 we have launched a new online magazine Pax In Nuce (Peace in a Nutshell) as an online forum that bridges short pieces of academic and practitioner analysis on peace and conflict issues.
  • To present the work of several journals in the field;

How to join the Standing Group

If you would like to join the Critical Peace and Conflict Studies Standing Group, you will need to create a myECPR account at This only takes a few minutes, and you need not be from an ECPR member institution to do so. Then, click on the following link, and select ‘Join Standing Group’.
If you are from an ECPR member institution your membership to the SG is automatic. If you are from a non-member institution we will need to accept your application to join, so your membership status will be ‘pending’ until we accept you.