DFAT Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (DFAT Agreement 66442)


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


  • Prof. Kwesi Aning (Director of Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, KAIPTC)
  • Dr Thomas Jaye (Deputy Director for Research, KAIPTC)
  • Ms. Nancy Annan (Research Associate, KAIPTC)


This project is investigating the nature and scope of non-state actors’ contribution to security, peace and justice in Ghana and Liberia, and their interaction with state and international groups and institutions. Non-state, societal providers of security are a fundamental part of how security and justice work for people on the ground in much of sub-Saharan Africa. A better understanding of these dynamics is a pre-requisite for constructive support of social peace, effective governance and sustainable economic and social development.

The project was awarded a total of $704,309 in funding as part of the DFAT Development Research Awards Scheme. Central to the design and conduct of the project is a partnership with researchers at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana (KAIPTC), a Centre of Excellence for training, education and research in peacekeeping and security.

Fieldwork will employ a multi-sited case study approach using qualitative, ethnographic research methods in two rural areas and two urban areas of Liberia and Ghana, respectively. They provide a strong basis for investigation and comparison. Both countries have long histories of customary governance systems; in both states customary authority is formally recognised, however relations between customary and state bodies are weak and highly problematic. Relations between populations and state security institutions on the ground are often tense. In both states a range of non-state providers of security have also emerged, creating complex pictures of peace, security and justice provision. The modern histories of the two states also provide strong contrasts, with Liberia suffering protracted civil conflict and Ghana broadly stable and growing economically; peace, security and justice, however, are pressing and core issues in both places.


The research process is expected to lead to a range of outputs, such as:

  • Academic publications: edited book, peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Series of workshops in the region bringing together a cross-section of stakeholders
  • Capacity development through supervised field research experience and mentorship for a small team of junior researchers at institutions in Ghana and Liberia.
  • Collection of policy briefs tailored to the needs of different audiences (i.e. DFAT, national policy bodies in Ghana and Liberia and relevant regional organisations)
  • Dissemination and sharing of research findings at international conferences
  • Engagements with the local and international media
  • Final overview report of findings and conclusions for AusAID

Furthermore, the project includes an outreach, research communication and engagement strategy that will guide efforts to stimulate discussion and exchange within and among three key constituencies:

  • Relevant national policy communities, including government policy makers and practitioners, advisors and scholars, in Ghana and Liberia;
  • Non-state providers of security and justice, particularly those sources active in the fieldwork sites; and,
  • Relevant international ‘knowledge’ and policy communities, including donor agencies, government officials and scholars.