The Global Initiative Network


Annette Idler

Director of Studies, Changing Character of War Centre, University of Oxford

Dr Annette Idler is Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She is also the Director of Studies at the Changing Character of War Centre, Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, and at the Department of Politics and International Relations, all University of Oxford.

Dr Idler’s work focuses on the interface of conflict, security, and transnational organized crime. Over the past decade, she has conducted extensive fieldwork in and on crisis-affected regions of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Myanmar and Somalia, including more than 600 interviews with local stakeholders. Dr Idler is the author of Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War (Oxford University Press, 2019) and co-editor of Transforming the War on Drugs: Warriors, Victims, and Vulnerable Regions (Hurst Publishers, forthcoming in 2020). Her work appeared in journals such as the Journal of Global Security Studies and Stability: International Journal of Security and Development. Dr Idler advises governments and international organizations, she is a regular expert for internationally renowned media outlets, and she served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council’s Fellow on International Security.

She holds a doctorate from the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, an MA in International Relations from King’s College London’s Department of War Studies, and a double bachelor degree from University Complutense of Madrid, Spain; and Regensburg University, Germany.



  • Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia (New York: Oxford University Press), 2019
  • Transforming the War on Drugs: Warriors, Victims, and Vulnerable Regions (co-edited with Juan Carlos Garzón Vergara) (London: Hurst Publishers), forthcoming in 2020.
  • Batallas de Fronteras: Violencia, Crimen, y Gobernanza en los Límites de Colombia (Bogotá: Penguin Random House), forthcoming in 2020 (Spanish version of Borderland Battles)

Peer-reviewed articles: 

  • “The Logic of Illicit Flows in Armed Conflict: Explaining Variation in Violent Nonstate Group Interactions in Colombia”, World Politics, 72(3), 335-376. doi:10.1017/S0043887120000040.
  • Gendering the Border Effect: The Double Impact of Colombian Insecurity and Venezuelan Mass Migration, Third World Quarterly, 2020, (with Julia Zulver).
  • COVID-19 in Colombia’s Borderlands and the Western Hemisphere: Adding Instability to a Double Crisis, Journal of Latin American Geography, 19 (3) (with Markus Hochmüller)
  • “From the Margins of War to the Center of Peacebuilding: How Gendered Dynamics of Conflict Matter”, Journal of Global Security Studies, 2019, 4 (2), 279–285.
  • “Preventing Conflict Upstream: Impunity and Illicit Governance across Colombia’s Borders”, Defence Studies, 2018, 1 (1), 58-75.
  • “Jiu-jitsu en contexto de conflicto armado: el poder de la resistencia no violenta” (Jiu-jitsu in the Context of Armed Conflict: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance) Ciudad Paz Ando, 2016, 9, (2), 155-167 (with Belén Garrido and Cécile Mouly).
  • “How Peace Takes Shape Locally: The Experience of Civil Resistance of Samaniego in Colombia”, Journal of Peace and Change, 2016, 41 (2), 129-166 (with Belén Garrido and Cécile Mouly).
  • “Zones of Peace in Colombia’s Borderlands”, The International Journal of Peace Studies, Summer 2015, 20 (1), 51-63. (with Cécile Mouly and Belén Garrido).
  • “Peace Territories in Colombia: Comparing Civil Resistance in Two War-Torn Communities”, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, 10 (3), 1-15, 2015, (with Cécile Mouly and Belén Garrido).
  • “Power Unpacked: Domination, Empowerment and Participation in Local Guatemalan Peace Forums”, Journal of Peace, Conflict and Development, 21, March 2015 (with Lenin Miranda and Cécile Mouly).
  • “Behavioral Patterns among (Violent) Non-State Actors: A Study of Complementary Governance”, Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 4(1):2, 2015 (with James Forest)
  • “Exploring Arrangements of Convenience among Violent Non-state Actors”, Perspectives on Terrorism, September 2012, 6 (4-5).
  • “Arrangements of Convenience in Colombia’s Borderlands: An Invisible Threat to Citizen Security?”, St. Antony’s International Review, 2012, 7 (2).

Book chapters:

  • “Tracing Cocaine Supply Chains from Within: Illicit Flows, Armed Conflict, and the Moral Economy of Andean Borderlands”, in Arias, Desmond and Grisaffi, Thomas (eds.) The Governance of the Global Narcotics Trade, Duke University Press, forthcoming.
  • “Mutual Recognition in the Context of Contested Statehood – Evidence from Tumaco, Colombia”, in Anna Geis, Maéva Clément, and Hanna Pfeifer, (eds.) Recognition of Armed Non-State Actors: Risks and Opportunities for Conflict, Manchester University Press, forthcoming (with Jan Boesten).
  • “Colombia: A Free-Rider with a Vested Interest in the (Non)-Development of R2P?”, in Mónica Serrano, and Claudio Fuentes, eds., The Responsibility to Protect in Latin America: The New Map, Routledge, forthcoming (with Diego Dewar).
  • “Organised Crime and Politics in Colombia” in Allum, Felia and Gilmour, Stan (eds.), Handbook on Organised Crime and Politics, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2019.
  • “Improving Responses to Protracted Conflict: Why Borderlands Matter for Upstream Engagement”, in Robert Johnson and Timothy Clack (eds.), Before Military Intervention, Palgrave, 2018.
  • “Between Shadow Citizenship and Civil Resistance: Shifting Local Orders in a Colombian War-Torn Community”, in Christopher Mitchell and Landon Hancock (eds.), Legitimacy and Local Peacebuilding, Routledge, 2018 (with Cécile Mouly and Belén Garrido).
  • “When Peace Implies Engaging the “Terrorist”: Peacebuilding in Colombia through Transforming Political Violence and Terrorism”, in Yannis Tellidis and Harmonie Toros, eds., The Nexus between Terrorism Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies, Routledge, 2015 (with Borja Paladini Adell).
  • ‘‘Espacios Invisibilizados: Actores Violentos No-Estatales en las Zonas Fronterizas de Colombia’, in Romy Köhler, and Anne Ebert (eds.), Agencias de lo indígena en la larga era de la globalización. Estudios Indiana, Ibero-American Institute, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag 2014.

Articles and reviews:

  • “The Transnationality of Conflict: Lessons Learned from Borderlands”, in Athanasios Kalogeresis, ed. Proceedings of the 2010 European Conference of the Association for Borderlands Studies (Thessaloniki: University of Thessaloniki), 2011, 185-204 (with Lindsay Scorgie).
  • “A borderland lens on hubs of protracted conflict”, In Depth, Oxford Policy Management, May 2019 (with Natasha Leite and Yadaira Orsini).
  • Review of Aldo Cívico, The Para-State: An Ethnography of Colombia’s Death Squads (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015), Journal of Latin American Studies, 2018, 50 (4): 984-986
  • “Challenges in Colombia’s Changing Security Landscape: Toward a Shared Vision of Peace”, LASA Forum, 49 (3), 2018, 75-79 (with M. Alba Niño, J. Boesten, J. Masullo, A. B. Tickner and J. Zulver).
  • Review of Winifred Tate, Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: U.S. Policymaking in Colombia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015), Journal of Latin American Studies, February 2017 49 (1): 200-202.
  • “El Carácter Cambiante de la Guerra: El Mapa Actual de los Retos a la Seguridad” (The Changing Character of War: The Current Map of Security Threats), Transformación Militar. Revista de Difusión y Análisis, 2016, 1, 18-23.

Policy briefs and reports:

  • Proposals for Drug Policy Reform and Implications for Human Security, in Feilding, Amanda, ed., Roadmaps to Regulations: Coca, Cocaine and Derivatives, Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, forthcoming.
  • “Addressing Marginality: Towards Enhanced Participation and People-Centred Security”, CONPEACE Cross-Stakeholder Forum Report, Bogotá, July 2019 (co-authored with CONPEACE team).
  • “Ensuring People-Centred Security in Colombia’s Borderlands”, CONPEACE Brief, May 2019, also in Spanish (co-authored with CONPEACE team).
  • “Peace and Development along the Colombia-Venezuela Border Strengthening Civil Society”, CONPEACE Brief, March 2019, also in Spanish (co-authored with CONPEACE team).
  • “Colombia’s Changing Security Landscape View from the Borderlands”, CONPEACE Brief, February 2019, also in Spanish (co-authored with CONPEACE team).
  • Strategic Resources in 2030: Three Challenges for the Future of International Security. Background Paper, World Economic Forum’s Geopolitics Series at Davos 2018, December 2017.
  • The Future of International Security. Discussion paper, World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on International Security, November 2017.
  • Borders vulnerable as peace stalls in Colombia, Jane’s Intelligence Review, October 2016.
  • Securing Peace in the Borderlands, DPIR, University of Oxford, August 2016.
  • Poor Peacebuilding Risks Power Vacuums in Colombia, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, April 2016.
  • Stability Indexes can be Deceptive Tools, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, October 2015.
  • State Neglect Fosters Global Illicitly-governed Spaces, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, July 2015.
  • Organised Crime and Fragility. Report for the Sector Programme Peace and Security, GIZ, January 2015.
  • Chávez’ Re-election: A Delusive Continuity? RUSI Newsbrief, November 2012, 32 (6).
    Post-Americas Summit Outlook: Walking the Walk? RUSI Newsbrief, May 2012, 32 (3).
  • Citizen Security at the Summit of the Americas: Why Europe should Care., RUSI Newsbrief, March 2012, 32 (2).

Analysis, commentary, opinion pieces:

  • The ‘border effect’ is allowing Venezuela’s crisis to fuel political violence in Colombia, LSE Blog, July 2019.
  • Venezuela: a humanitarian and security crisis on the border with Colombia, The Conversation. February 2019.
  • Will 2019 see a Peace Process for the ELN rebels in Colombia?, OpenDemocracy and democraciaAbierta, January 2019 (with J. Masullo and J. Zulver)
  • Colombia’s New Presidency and the Protection of Social Leaders, e-International Relations, August 2018 (with J. Boesten).
  • Santos got the Nobel Prize for not giving up on peace –here’s why all Colombians won. The Conversation, October 2016.
  • Colombia just voted no on its plebiscite for peace. Here’s why and what it means. Washington Post, October 2016.
  • La verdadera prueba para la paz en Colombia empieza después del proceso de desmovilización. ¿Por qué?, OpenDemocracy and democraciaAbierta, September 2016 (also available in English).
  • Why the real tests for Colombia’s peace begins after the demobilization process, Washington Post, September 2016.
  • A momentous peace deal with the FARC – so what next for Colombia? The Conversation, August 2016.
  • How Nonviolent Resistance Works: Factors for Successful Peacebuilding in Samaniego, Colombia, Political Violence @ a Glance, July 2016 (with Cécile Mouly and Belén Garrido).
  • What will the peace process mean for Colombia’s border regions? The government will have to start governing, Washington Post, June 2016.
  • La línea entre la paz y la guerra está en las fronteras, Silla Vacía, April 2016.
  • Megateo, the armed groups and the future of Colombia’s Catatumbo, openDemocracy, October 2015 (also available in Spanish and Portuguese).
  • ¿Qué significa la muerte de ‘Megateo’ para la gente del Catatumbo?, Semana, October 2015.
  • Colombia’s deal with the FARC could bring peace or create a power vacuum, The Conversation, October 2015.
  • A Humanitarian and Diplomatic Crisis is Unfolding on the Colombia-Venezuela Border, The Conversation, September 2015.
  • The Colombia-Venezuela border crisis: the civilian backdrop, openDemocracy, September 2015.
  • La población civil, víctima de la crisis fronteriza entre Colombia y Venezuela, democraciaAbierta, September 2015.
  • “El Índice Global de Paz 2015: ¿cómo vamos en Colombia?”, Razon Pública, August 2015.
  • Impact of violent non-state groups on peace processes and peacebuilding, Interview at UN DPA, July 2015.
  • Violent Non-State Actors and Complementary Governance: What ISIS, Hizballah and FARC Have in Common, Centre for Security Governance, June 2015.
  • From the Field: Intuitive Trust Matters: Researching Conflict and Crime across Borders, Border Criminologies, June 2015.
  • Narco-brokers and Financiers: The Key Elements in the Cocaine Business, EU Cocaine Route Programme, March 2015.
  • “Narco-brokers y Financieros: Piezas Claves del Naroctráfico”, Razón Pública, August 2014.
  • The Margins at the Centre of the FARC’s Future, DAG-3QD Symposia on Peace & Justice, February 2014.
  • Security and the Post-Chávez Bolivarian Project: A Convenient Revolution for Free-riders?, Politics in Spires, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, March 2013.
  • Arrangements of Convenience among Violent Non-state Actors, Extremis Project, December 2012.
  • Global Governance and the UN Reform, German Council on Foreign Relations, 2009.