At the forefront of research on humanitarian crises

The research and publications of our members provide both breadth and depth of knowledge, insight and analysis related to issues affecting the humanitarian sector today.

The Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub are proud to host members with a diverse and multidisciplinary approach to current issues related to armed conflict and crises. From seeking accountability for violations in current armed conflict to examining the historical impact of war, our expertise spans humanitarian law, social work, human rights, political science, refugee protection, media studies, history, international law and more.

Students can get involved in a range of Hub projects, including being trained to verify videos and photos in the Digital Verification Unit, or working on a conflict-related project in the Human Rights Clinic. The Hub also runs regular seminars and events for students on contemporary topics related to armed conflict and crisis.  

Discover more about our current projects, our areas of expertise, or, browse our completed projects and discover their outputs and publications.


Current projects

Mitigating Civilian Harm in Armed Conflict

Members of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub are using their research to produce original policy briefs on the protection of civilians in conflict. These will serve the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) in advocacy work with high-level policymakers, governments (including parliamentary/congressional staff), and military practitioners.

The research is being led by Professor Noam Lubell with Claire Simmons working as a researcher on the project.

Digital Verification Unit

The Digital Verification Unit works with Amnesty International and other partners to conduct investigations into human rights violations around the world, using open-source techniques. It is run by Dr Matthew Gillett.

The DVU is currently working on a number of different projects, including documenting airstrikes linked to civilian casualties in Yemen, documenting ‘drift backs’ in the Mediterranean Sea, and a cultural heritage project aimed at documenting the initial cultural history of the Syrian revolution.


Accountability Deficits of Major Western Powers

Dr. Carla Ferstman leads a pilot project on UK military accountability for international crimes in Iraq.

This project is a collaboration between the Essex Law School, University of Essex and the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, assessing efforts for accountability for abuses by the UK military in Iraq by the UK and ICC.

The project has produced a report to key stakeholders in the UK and ICC, and other outputs include the aim to encourage and foster multi-country research into alleged crimes by Western powers' military forces.

Recent pieces include Incendiary Speech Acts, Lawfare and Other Rhetorical Battles Against the Rule of Law, Why Civil Claims are a Necessary Part of the Arsenal to Address Military Excesses: Assessing the UK Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill and EJILtalk! Blog Symposium on the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans Bill).

Solutions to Forced Displacement

Practical guidance on the role of the rule of law in securing a better future for refugees led by Professor Geoff Gilbert, chair of the Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network (GAIN).

Social Work in Extremis

Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis' work focuses on social services/work in the context of armed and political conflict and explores such practice in the context of unpredictable and extraordinary political, social, economic and environmental change. Vasilios focused primarily on Cyprus, Greece and Colombia and more recently, his work explores the broad issue of accountability of professionals (primarily in the 'helping professions') who work in armed conflict.

Media, Conflict and Democratization in the Arab Region Post Uprisings

Dr. Fatima El-Issawi, a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, conducts research that explores the role of the media and journalists within conflict and democratization in the Arab region. In a major new project funded by the British Academy, Fatima leads an international team to investigate the complex role of the media in conflicts, reviewing journalistic practices in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco following the Arab Spring.

The project, funded by the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme 2018, will:

  • collaborate with journalists and civil society to debate journalistic practices and implications on societal divisions and polarisations
  • take findings to the next generation of journalists with workshops and seminars at newsrooms, colleges and universities
  • build a network of knowledge transfer and contribute to policymaking by working with partners such as the Africa Centre at London School of Economics
  • publish two academic books and a number of journal articles to share findings



Authoritarianism and democracy 

Professor Natasha Lindstaedt, Faculty Dean Undergraduate (Social Science), studies authoritarian regimes, failed states, violent non-state actors and human security. Professor Lindstaedt is involved in various projects on authoritarianism and democracy.

M.O.R.D.O.R. is an Erasmus+ project, co-funded by the European Union focusing on improving general education on authoritarianism and preparing recommendations for EU foreign policy stakeholders regarding democracy support.

TRECA is an academic network to study transnational efforts by national and regional governments, international institutions and courts, NGOs, international and domestic institutions, civil society, and research networks. This project includes the involvement of the Project on Autocratic Legalism (PAL) and the Global Legal Studies Center at UW-Madison. PAL studies efforts by autocrats to use the law to gain and secure power, and resistance to such efforts, with an initial focus on Brazil, India, and South Africa.

War and Cultural Memory

Professor Lucy Noakes is the Principal Investigator on a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, titled “Reflections on the Centenary: Learning and Legacies for the Future”.

Working with colleagues at the Universities of Exeter, Glasgow and Kent, and with Dr James Wallis, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of History at Essex, Professor Noakes is investigating the impact and legacies of a range of projects which took place between 2014 and 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in Britain.

Related publication include 'War and the British: Gender and National identity 1939-1991 (originally published 1998, to be republished by Bloomsbury 2023), ‘My husband is interested in war generally’: Gender, Generation and Mass Observation at the centenary of the First World War’, Women’s History Review, 27:4 2018 (republished in British Women’s Histories of the First World War 2020).

Peace, Security and Conflict with the World Commission on Environmental Law

Professor Karen Hulme is Chair of the Specialist Group on Peace, Security and Conflict with the World Commission on Environmental Law (IUCN), and is working on a four year plan at present.

The project will develop model legislation to help operationalize the International Law Commission’s (ILC) Draft Principles on Protection of the Environment in relation to Armed Conflict.

History of War and Trauma

Armed Conflict in Africa

Dr Gus Waschefort has recently shifted focus to researching law and armed conflict in Africa on a macro level. That is to say, researching law and armed conflict in Africa as a topic in and of itself.

His article ‘Africa and International Humanitarian Law: The more things change, the more they stay the same’ International Review of the Red Cross (2016) provides a blueprint for his research agenda in the coming years.

Prior to his academic career, Gus had first-hand experience working in armed conflict settings in his time as a photojournalist. Some of his images from Democratic Republic of Congo are displayed on this site.

The Criminalization of Civil Society Groups that Support Refugees and Migrants

Professor Carla Ferstman, in her role as member of the Council of Europe Conference on INGOs’ Expert Council on NGO Law, conducted a major study on the criminalisation of civil society groups providing assistance to refugees and migrants throughout the Member States of the Council of Europe.

The study resulted in a major report published by the Expert Council and the adoption of guidelines on protecting NGO work. Also, in this same capacity, Professor Ferstman carried out an analysis of new legislation in Greece which had the effect of severely limiting civil society space of groups supporting refugees and migrants. 

Civilians and Armed Conflict in Historical Context

Professor Lucy Noakes is exploring the role of civilians in armed conflict in a historical context.

Her publications include Valuing the Dead: Death, Burial and the Body in Second World War Britain; Total War: An Emotional History (Oxford: Oxford University Press; and Gendering Grief in Second World War Britain.

Professor Noakes is currently working to complete a project with Professor Susan R Grayzel (Utah State University) called 'How to Survive a War' which examines the militarisation of everyday, civilian life through the history of civil defence in 20th century Britain.

Addressing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Settings

Professor Carla Ferstman has been researching, writing and advocating for stronger protections against sexual exploitation and abuse for many years.

Regulation of New Military Technologies

Professor Noam Lubell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US, working on the legal, ethical, and policy aspects of new military technologies in general and three areas in particular: protection of humanitarian missions in cyber space; the ethical and legal challenges arising from human enhancement technologies; and military use of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

"Essex, importantly, grounds its research and projects in the realities of armed conflict. I am very pleased to collaborate with members of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub on work that focuses on practical and credible solutions to today’s complex challenges in armed conflict."
Major General (Retd) Blaise Cathcart
Essex Armed Conflict Hub panel of speakers)
Essex Armed Conflict Hub panel of speakers

Our areas of expertise

Protection of Civilians and Human Rights in Armed Conflict

The below members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on the Protection of Civilians and Human Rights:

Health and Social Work in Situations of Emergency

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Health and Social Work in Situations of Emergency:

Displacement and Migration

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Displacement and Migration:

Journalists and the Media in Conflict

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Journalism and the Media in Conflict:

Authoritarianism, Armed Groups, and Terrorism

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Authoritarianism, Armed Groups and Terrorism:

History of War and Conflict

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on the History of War and Conflict:

Transitional Justice and Peacebuilding

We are proud to collaborate with members of the Essex Transitional Justice Network who provide expertise on issues related to conflict and transitional justice.

The Environment and Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on the Environment and Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict:

Emerging Technologies in Conflict

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Human Enhancement and Emerging Technologies in Conflict:

Gender Dimensions of Conflict

The below Members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on Gender Dimensions of Conflict:

Accountability for Violations in Armed Conflict

The below members of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub work on accountability for violations in armed conflict:

Health and Social Work in Situations of Emergency

Members of the Hub working on Health and Social Work in Situations of Emergency include Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis.

Displacement and Refugee Law

Professor Geoff Gilbert provides expertise on Displacement and Refugee Law within the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub.

Journalists and the Media in Conflict

The Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub has members working on Journalists and the Media in Conflict, including Dr. Fatima El-Issawi.