Mali and Bougainville: New perspectives on international engagement in complex, heterogeneous security environments.

Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Special programmes “Security, Society, and the State“


  • Dr Charles T Hunt (VC Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University)
  • Associate Professor Anne Brown (Honorary Principal Research Fellow, RMIT University)
  • Dr Volker Boege (Fellow, UQ)


This project aims to contribute to more realistic, effective international efforts to support conflict resolution in complex, heterogeneous security contexts. It does this through a study of conflict resolution in Mali and Bougainville (PNG) drawing on insights from theories of hybridity and relationality. These cases are different in many respects. In both, however, patterns of both conflict and order are heterogeneous and polycentric, characterised by complex interdependence among different logics of socio-political order and different security actors. State and diverse traditional authorities are leading, but not the only, actors. Both cases are on the UNSC agenda; one mired in conflict, the other considering independence. This study of cases at contrasting but dynamic points in the conflict cycle aims to investigate complex heterogeneity as not only a context of chaos or violence but also a source of order and conflict resolution. It investigates the idea that the effort to support highly centralised models of conflict resolution or governance may be counter-productive in complex, heterogeneous states and explores the potential for alternative, practicable approaches.

With Directeur Général Adjoint of the Malian National Police.