UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has been cancelled. 

Following the costly counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, states such as the UK have become increasingly reluctant to deploy large numbers of their own troops as part of their military interventions aboard. They have instead focused on working with local and regional forces, who are expected to do the bulk of frontline fighting while the UK and others offer support such as intelligence, training, equipment, special forces or air support. We refer to this approach as Remote Warfare. 

The African continent is a congested space for this sort of activity, with multiple overlapping unilateral, bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at building stability, countering terrorist activity and building the capacity of local partners - often with little or no coordination among international allies or with locals on the ground. This is having a detrimental impact on peace and security in many African countries and regions. For instance, building the capacity of predatory armed forces without addressing deeper problems like corruption or lack of civilian oversight of the military may better enable rights-violating security forces to do what they have always done. This is likely to exacerbate instability and violence. To add to a growing body of literature on this topic, this workstream will bring together experts of remote warfare, security force assistance, and security force reform, as well as country-specific and regional experts to examine the challenges of contemporary conflict in Africa.

Paper proposals no longer than 500 words are invited around the themes listed below. We also invite abstracts on the topic of remote warfare in Africa which do not fit into these prescribed themes. You can find more information about how to register an account to submit an abstract here.


  • Long term consequences of remote warfare

What is the nature of remote warfare on the African continent? Are there distinct Western and non-Western forms of remote warfare in Africa? Has remote warfare in Africa changed over the last two decades, and if so, how? Are there distinct challenges and risks posed by remote warfare in Africa? What are the long-term, political consequences of its use? How are competing international, regional, national and local agendas and objectives coordinated on the continent?  Could these approaches be described as effective?


  • Impact on civilians and local militaries

How is remote warfare impacting human security in Africa? How has remote warfare on the African continent challenged international norms? What are the consequences of remote warfare for communities on the ground?  What is the impact of remote warfare on political efforts aimed at, for instance, security sector reform or improving civilian oversight of the military in Africa?


  • Transparency and Accountability

To what extent has the use of remote warfare undermined the transparency and accountability of warfare?  What does the uneven experience of ‘remoteness’ tell us about the geographies and temporalities of warfare today; what does it say about the changing relationship between the military, politicians and the public? How does remote warfare shape the experiences of African military personnel?


Proposals should be submitted electronically by 26 April, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact Oxford Research Group’s Research and Policy Officer, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen at [email protected].