The world’s security landscape is constantly changing. In 2022, there were more battle-related deaths from state-based conflicts than in any year since 1984, with the primary contributors to more than 204,000 battle-related deaths being Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This year the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.42 per cent. This is the thirteenth deterioration in peacefulness in the last fifteen years. Today's conflicts involve tenacious armed groups with access to sophisticated armaments and techniques. Building global lasting peace for all is a frightful challenge for key stakeholders and influencers. 

Recognizing that the United Nations (UN) needs to better anticipate and respond to these challenges, an eight-year partnership between the UN System Staff College (UNSSC) and the University of Oxford produced the “Changing Character of Conflict Platform” to aid understanding, tracing, and forecasting change across time, space, and cultures. 

The platform was co-designed with UNSSC, with the aim to reduce the harmful impact of armed conflict on individuals and communities by supporting local community leaders, practitioners, and   policymakers working   towards   violence   reduction and prevention. 

“Our expertise at the Staff College allowed us to successfully serve as the focal point for the project, ensuring maximum co-operation and coordination across the UN agencies and partners, leading to the establishment of a knowledge and training portal accessible to all UN staff , as well as the provision of guidance on content and the structure of the courses,” said Svenja Korth, Head of the Peace and Security Hub at UNSSC. 

In 2022 two virtual cross-stakeholder forums brought together civil society, the international community, and academia. This unique cross-stakeholder methodology facilitated exploring different perspectives —‘Conflict in Myanmar’, ‘Conflict in the Horn of Africa’ and ‘Conflict in Columbia’ — on topics such as the transition from war to peace, uncertainty, and perceived and experienced insecurities.  

The forums resulted in the publication of a series of reports, including a synthesis

“Drawing on sources ranging from photographs, military doctrines, and audio-recordings of victims and perpetrators to weapon registries and tweets, we brought together expertise, approaches and methods in ways not normally combined in conflict research,” said Annette Idler, Director, Global Security Programme, Pembroke College, and Associate Professor at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. 

“We were able to integrate archival research, multi-year ethnographic fieldwork and expert interviews, analysis of visual representations of conflict, quantitative data analysis and mathematical modelling and software coding in order to promote a dialogue between quantitative and qualitative studies.”  

UNSSC remains committed to providing inclusive, high-quality learning solutions which strengthen the UN’s ability to work across pillars to prevent and mitigate conflict, to build resilient societies and to contribute meaningfully to sustainable peace.