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24 February 2021

New global centre of excellence established on the use and understanding of war records

The Conflict Records Unit, part of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War, will fill a gap in the way researchers study war.


Based in the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War in the School of Security Studies, King’s College London, the new Conflict Records Unit will house historical war records. In particular, it specialises in evidence gathered from primary sources that are often contentious, difficult to access, and at risk of loss or destruction, from captured enemy records to re-constituted Cold War archives through to AI-moderated war crimes evidence.

The approach differentiates the unit in important ways. It takes a holistic view of conflict records, consistent with the Sir Michael Howard Centre’s mission to understand the history of war in all its complexity. The unit also develops and hosts special collections, makes use of them for research purposes, and studies their legal and ethical implications. It is a practical, applied orientation designed to enable research and inform policy.

Dr Mike Innes, Director of the Conflict Records Unit said:

We’re working closely with the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s to ensure the unit’s remit and capabilities are fit for purpose. We’re also collaborating with members of the wider research community – specialists in conflict health, war crimes, terrorism etc, to expand our collection of conflict records for the use of research and teaching. Ultimately we want to provide a resource for students and researchers to access previously unseen sources from conflicts of the past.

Professor Mike Goodman, Head of the Department of War Studies added:

The Conflict Records Unit is our newest addition to our diverse research groups and centres, but has already proven to be one of the most active. Its ambitious and exciting plans to expand our collection, utilisation and knowledge of records has the potential to fundamentally alter our understanding of conflict

The unit is currently developing several large-scale projects and is hosting a speaker series featuring scholars and practitioners in the field of conflict records. The inaugural eventInvestigating war crimes in Syria and Iraq vis-à-vis the Assad Regime and Da’esh’ with Dr William Wiley, founder and executive director of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, takes place on 24 February.

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Download the CRU Reference Series: General Bibliography

In this story

Michael Innes

Visiting Senior Research Fellow

Michael  Goodman

Professor of Intelligence and International Affairs

Joe  Maiolo

Professor of International History