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Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Margaux Pinaud

Thesis title

'Home-grown peace: an analysis of the role of civil society actors in ceasefire negotiations and implementation'


Wars in the 21st century are presenting a set of new challenges. Key among them are the increased targeting of civilians, through violence or persecution, the concomitant rise in global displacement, and the difficulty in finding political solutions to increasingly complex internal conflicts involving a multiplicity of actors and interests. In the face of these challenges, calls for inclusive approaches to resolving conflicts and insecurity have grown louder. Indeed, as civilians have the most direct experience of conflicts and typically suffer disproportionately from them, they become arguably the greatest beneficiaries of, but also the greatest allies to, peace processes. Notwithstanding, the study and practice of conflict resolution and peace building seem to have taken a “technocratic turn”, whereby expertise is exogenous and local actors are passive recipients rather than active agents of such processes. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to bring the focus back on civilians by shedding greater light on their role in conflict resolution efforts. More specifically, by examining the nature and contribution of civil society in the negotiation and implementation of ceasefire agreements, this research will seek to make a case for the inclusion of local actors from the earliest stages of conflict resolution efforts, as a means to making and building peace more inclusively, and more durably.


Research interests

  • Conflict analysis
  • conflict resolution
  • mediation

Professional background

I have several years of professional experience in the fields of international security, humanitarian analysis and international justice support. I have been working as a Research Analyst for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED) project since 2015, monitoring and analysing the evolution of political violence in mainly Eastern Africa. Prior to that, I was an Information Analyst for the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), assessing needs stemming from humanitarian crises worldwide, including in relations to the final phase of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa; and a Program Associate for Justice Rapid Response (JRR), supporting the rapid deployment of highly-specialised criminal justice and human rights experts to support national or international investigations of war crimes, genocides, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations.

Previous Education

  • MA in International Relations, King’s College London, War Studies Department
  • BA in International Relations, University of Geneva

Why I’m doing a PhD at HCRI

Advancing knowledge and practice around conflict resolution: Over the past few years, I have developed a strong interest in conducting timely, objective and thorough research and analysis into the conflict/humanitarian nexus, so as to promote the grounding of responders’ operational needs within contextual environments. By pursuing a PhD at HCRI, I am seeking to better understand the field of conflict resolution, and to support its development and transformation through research outcomes that will extend the knowledge, understanding and practice linked to it. In particular, I want to generate new perspectives on cross-actor and cross-sectorial engagement in responses to conflict, and bring the focus back on civilians as the greatest beneficiaries of, but also the greatest allies to, peace processes.

Benefitting from a stimulating learning environment: I am most enthusiastic about the structure of the PhD programme. Working in personalised conditions, with unparalleled access to material resources and experts based at HCRI or within its wider network, will support my aim of producing an original and high-quality scientific contribution in the field. Being introduced to a range of dynamic and challenging concepts and methods will also enable me to reflect critically and constructively on academic work and current practice around my research topic, as well as on my professional experiences.

Improving my career prospects: After completing my course of study, I see myself going on to a career in applied research, working as an expert at centres and organisations dedicated to the study of conflicts and the promotion of their prevention and settlement. I believe that, by successfully pursuing a PhD at HCRI, I will gain fundamental skills that will support and widen these career objectives. Key among such skills are an ability to approach any topic in the future with sound analytical and methodological rigor, a capability to solve problems, manage projects and communicate, as well as central interpersonal and leadership qualities.


(Non-academic publications)

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