Kieran Mitton

Kieran Mitton


  • Reader in Conflict, Security, and Development, War Studies
  • Phone82670
  • 50

Personal profile

Biographical details

Dr Mitton joined the department in 2012 as Lecturer in International Relations, after completing an MA, MRes and PhD within the Department of War Studies (KCL). From 2007 he worked as a Research Fellow in the Conflict Security and Development Research Group (CSDRG), conducting extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone for a study of reintegration. He has worked with a range of research and development organisations, including the International Policy Institute, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the United Nations Development Programme, and various risk intelligence consultancies. He has specialist area knowledge of Sierra Leone, West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.

Kieran's current research examines the causes and shaping dynamics of extreme violence during conflict, with a particular focus upon the role of emotions and psychology at both individual and group level. He also researches the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of combatants; post-conflict justice and reconciliation processes; narcotics trafficking in West Africa; and maritime security in West Africa.

Research interests

  • Atrocities and Violence in Civil War

Since 2008 Dr Mitton has conducted regular fieldwork in Sierra Leone to interrogate the various causes and shaping dynamics of extreme violence in conflict, examining the concept of brutalisation and the social psychology of violence. Taking a broad inter-disciplinary approach, he is especially interested in violence characterised as ‘irrational’ and the role played by the emotions of disgust and shame. His forthcoming book, provisionally entitled Understanding Atrocity in the Sierra Leone Civil War (2014, Hurst), draws on extensive interviews with perpetrators of violence to address the most seemingly ‘senseless’ acts of atrocity.

As part of a Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs –funded programme, based within the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group (CSDRG), Kieran leads a newly established project that brings together leading international researchers from various academic disciplines to address the question of how we might better understand and tackle civil war atrocities. Further details are available here.


  • Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR):

Dr Mitton is interested in the challenges faced in war-to-peace transitions, particularly with regard to the disarmament and reintegration of armed groups through both formal and informal processes. Since 2007 he has conducted a longitudinal study of Sierra Leone’s ex-combatants and their experience of DDR, giving particular attention to the neglected area of political integration. He has published a series of journal articles for this project, further details of which can be found on the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group page.


  • Maritime Security in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Dr Mitton is regularly consulted as a risk intelligence specialist for various governmental and non-governmental organisations operating in sub-Saharan Africa. He is particularly interested in issues affecting maritime security in West Africa, ranging from the socio-economic impact of resource exploitation on local coastal communities to the expansion of organised maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.  
  • Narcotics Trafficking in West Africa:
Kieran's research in this area seeks to assess and understand the impact that narcotics trafficking has or may have on West Africa, particularly with regard to the growth of trans-Atlantic cocaine trafficking through the region. Specific areas of focus are the linkages between corruption and cocaine trafficking in source and transit countries, the development of domestic drugs markets in transit countries, and the relationship between trans-Atlantic trafficking, violence, local criminal networks and ex-combatant groups.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Approaches to Understanding Atrocity in the Sierra Leonean Civil War 1991-2002, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2013

Master of Research, War Studies, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2008

Master of Arts, Conflict, Security & Development, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006


  • JZ International relations
  • Sierra Leone
  • Africa
  • Violence
  • Atrocity
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Shame
  • Disgust
  • DDR
  • Reconciliation
  • Civil War


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