Roots of Behaviour in War: ICRC seeks researchers

What factors condition behaviour in armed conflict? What is the distance between knowing IHL and respecting it? What leads a combatant to comply with the law or not? Ten years after the publication of "Roots of Behaviour in War", the ICRC is embarking on a new ambitious endeavour to update that study.

We're bringing together a group of researchers to identify sources of influence on the formation of 'norms of restraint' in armed conflict within State armed forces and non-State armed groups. We will select each researcher on the basis of a proposal and on the capacity of the researcher to conduct research with two groups of arms bearers of a specified type.

See the Terms of Reference for further detail on the research objectives.

This research is part of a review of the Roots of Behaviour in War study published by the ICRC in 2004.

Deadline for applications: 31 January 2016

Selection criteria

  • Previous research experience and contact with State armed forces or non-State armed groups.
  • PhD-level qualifications in a related field.
  • Publication record on issues related to armed forces or non-State armed groups.
  • Proven skills in the management of research projects, ideally with experience in multi-disciplinary research teams.
  • High-quality research proposal, with specific emphasis on the feasibility of the methodology for primary source-data collection.
  • Value-for-money budget.


The ICRC project team will convene a meeting with the successful candidates in Geneva in April 2016, to finalize research design. Data collection should be completed in 2016 and final reports submitted by mid-2017.


  • Report on each of the two State armed forces/non-State armed groups studied (max. 3,000 words).
  • Paper on the three most important emerging research issues of relevance to this type of State armed force/non-State armed group (max 2,000 words).
  • Comparative analysis of the research findings and their implications for ways in which the ICRC might try to influence the formation of norms of restraint (max 10,000 words).


  • Please submit a detailed proposal, including a budget for the field research.
  • Value for money is a criterion for selection.
  • Each researcher is expected to study two groups of arms bearers of a specific type (see the Terms of Reference for further details).
  • The proposed budget, which must include both field expenses and the researcher's salary, may not exceed 45,000 Swiss francs.

Application process and deadline

Please send applications, using our application template, to:

with the subject heading: "Application: Roots of Behaviour in War update."

To fill in the application form, open the template, then use File>Download to download a copy.

  • Applications must be submitted as a Word or PDF document, using the application template, no later than midnight (CET) on 31 January 2016. You may present the budget in an Excel document if you wish.
  • Proposals exceeding the page limit may be disqualified.
  • Please do not submit documents that are not requested.
  • We will only contact you if you have been short-listed.
  • Please send any questions concerning the application to

ICRC Roots of War update - Terms of Reference

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