Research Projects

Charles’ research in the field of international relations, peace and conflict studies has four main foci:

1. The changing nature of United Nations peace operations

 2. Peacebuilding and governance in conflict-affected societies

3. Evaluation, impact assessment and organisational learning in conflict, peace  and development INTERVENTIONS

4. The PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT, Responsibility to Protect and prevention of mass atrocities

More details about each research area below.


 1. The changing nature of United Nations peace operations

The first looks at the evolution of United Nations peace operations. In particular, it looks at the implications of recent trends towards a greater focus on civilian protection, more involvement in post-conflict peacebuilding and an increased willingness to use force as part of mandate implementation.

As part of this work, Dr Hunt is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellowship for 2017-2020. The project – ‘International Policing and Civilian Protection’ – aims to assess the evolving roles and emerging impacts of police peacekeepers, specifically as they relate to implementing protection of civilians mandates. More detail about this project here.

He is also is a Chief Investigator (along with Professor Alex Bellamy, UQ) on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant for 2016–2019 that aims to evaluate the impacts of more ‘robust’ civilian protection and stabilisation-focused missions. This project – ‘Civilian Protection and the Use of Force’ –  investigates the impacts for UN peacekeeping overall as well as for myriad other actors operating in the same space such as the development and humanitarian communities. More detail about this project is available here.

Recent publications in this area include:

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 2. Peacebuilding and governance in conflict-affected societies

The second relates to the transformation of governance, security and justice systems as a means of building peace in conflict-affected countries and regions. More specifically, this area of work is interested in questions of everyday peace and the encounter between the global (top-down) and the local (bottom-up) during and following periods of turmoil and violent conflict.

On this topic, Charles was Chief Investigator on a recently completed multi-year research project funded by the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade examining the empirical realities of social order in the ‘differently ordered’ states of West Africa. This project – ‘Understanding and Working with Local Sources of Peace, Security and Justice’ – identified how and to what effect myriad providers of everyday safety and well-being interact and produce emergent socio-political (dis)order. More detail about this project is available here.

Publications flowing from this work include:

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3. Evaluation, impact assessment and organisational learning in conflict, peace  and development INTERVENTIONS

The third focus relates to issues of monitoring and evaluation, impact assessment and organisational learning in conflict management, peacebuilding and development contexts. This research draws on complexity theory and advocates for new epistemological thinking as well as adjustments to practical approaches to assessment in order to enhance the effectiveness of peacebuilding and development.

This work emerges from a multi-year research project funded by the Australian Federal Police developing a framework for assessing the impact of police capacity-development initiatives overseas. Charles has been instrumental in setting up international networks of researchers and practitioners focused on these questions such as The Phoenix Network, and the Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON) for which he has contributed to designing the shared methodology and co-authored one of the pilot reports:

On these issues, Dr Hunt is author of numerous books and articles including:

Mali female peacekeeper


4. The PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT, Responsibility to Protect and prevention of mass atrocities

This fourth area of research is focused on the normative character and trajectory of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as well as the policy and practice dimensions of efforts to prevent mass atrocities more generally.

Recent and forthcoming publications include:

UNSC chamber