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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy



Deborah Avant


Dr. Deborah Avant is the Director and Chair for the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. Her research (funded by the Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation, among others) has focused on civil-military relations and the roles of non-state actors in controlling violence and generating governance. She was the inaugural director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy. Under her leadership the Sié Chéou-Kang Center launched the Private Security Monitor; became a model for promoting engaged scholarship on the many policy consequential organizations that affect peace, security, and governance; grew from one to nine affiliated faculty member,; and became the first home to the International Studies Association's newest journal: the Journal of Global Security Studies, for which she serves as editor in chief. She is an observer member of the ICoCA and, in 2013, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of St.Gallen for her research and contribution toward regulating private military and security companies. Professor Avant regularly advises governments, companies, NGOs, and others on the roles that many play in contemporary global governance and serves on numerous governing and editorial boards

Highlighted Works

Handbook of Int'l Security International Studies Quarterly Journal of Con Res Market for Force
"Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence" Edited with Marie Berry, Erica Chenoweth, Rachel Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk, Oxford University Press.

"The Private Security Events Database" with Kara Kingma Neu, in the Journal of Conflict Resolution

"Public-Private Interactions and Practices of Security" Deborah Avant and Virginia Haufler, in The Oxford Handbook of International Security (2018)

"Pragmatic Networks and Transnational Governance of Private Military and Security Services"
Deborah Avant, in International Studies Quarterly

Journal Articles

"Pragmatic Networks and Transnational Governance of Private Military and Security Services," International Studies Quarterly 60:1 (2016).

"Pragmatism and Effective Fragmented Governance: Comparing Trajectories in Small Arms and Military and Security Services," Oñati Socio-Legal Series 3:4 (2013).

"Transnational Organizations and Security," with Virginia Haufler, Global Crime 13:4 (2012).

"Military Contractors and the American Way of War," with Renee de Nevers, Daedalus 140:3 (2011). 

"Private Security and Democracy: Lessons from the US in Iraq," with Lee Sigelman, Security Studies 19:2 (2010). 

"NGOs, Corporations, and Security Transformation in Africa," International Relations 21:2 (2007).

"Contracting for Services in U.S. Military Operations," PS: Political Science and Politics 50:3 (2007). 

"The Implications of Marketized Security for IR Theory: the Democratic Peace, Late State Building and the Nature and Frequency of Conflict," Perspectives on Politics 4:3 (2006).

"Global Monitor: Markets and Forces: Private Security and Its Implications," New Political Economy 10:1 (2005).

"Conserving Nature in the State of Nature: the Politics of INGO Implementation," Review of International Studies (2004).

"The Privatization of Security and Change in the Control of Force," International Studies Perspectives 5:2 (2004).

"Private Military Training," (update) Foreign Policy in Focus 7:6 (2002).

"U.S. Military Attitudes toward Post-Cold War Missions," Armed Forces and Society 27:1 (2000).

"Privatizing Military Training," Foreign Policy in Focus 5:17 (2000).

"From Mercenary to Citizen Armies: Explaining Change in the Practice of War," International Organization 54:1 (2000).

"Conflicting Indicators of "Crisis‟ in American Civil-Military Relations," Armed Forces and Society 24:4 (1998).

"Are the Reluctant Warriors Out of Control? Why the U.S. Military is Averse to Responding to Post-Cold War Low-Level Threats," Security Studies 6:2 (1996-97).

"The Institutional Sources of Military Doctrine: Hegemons in Peripheral Wars," International Studies Quarterly 37:4 (1993).

Book Chapters

"Public-Private Interactions and Practices of Security," in Alexandra Gheciu and William C. Wohlforth, eds.  The Oxford Handbook of International Security (Oxford University Press, 2018). 

"Pragmatism, the Just War Tradition, and an Ethical Approach to Private Military and Security Companies," in Daniel R. Brunstetter and Jean-Vincent Holeindre, eds.,  The Ethics of War and Peace Revisited: Moral Challenges in an Era of Contested and Fragmented Sovereignty (Georgetown University Press, 2017). 

"Netting the Empire: Relationships and US Roles Governing Small Arms and Military and Security Services," in Deborah Avant and Oliver Westerwinter, eds., The New Power Politics: Networks and Transnational Security Governance (Oxford University Press, 2016). 

"Questioning the Post-Heroic Warfare Logic: Private Contractors, Casualty Sensitivity and Public Support for War in the United States," in Sibylle Scheipers and Hew Strachan, eds., Heroism and the Changing Character of War: Toward Post-Heroic Warfare? (Palgrave, 2014).

"The Dynamics of 'Private' Security Practices and their Public Consequences: Transnational Organizations in Historical Perspective," with Virginia Haufler, in Jacquie Best and Alexandra Gheciu, eds., The Return of the Public in Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

"The Mobilization of Private Forces after 9/11: Ad hoc Response to Inadequate Planning," in James Burk, ed., How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013).

"Military Contractors and the American Way of War," in David Kennedy ed., The Modern American Military (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

"War, Recruitment Systems, and Democracy," in Elizabeth Kier and Ronald Krebs, eds., In War's Wake (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

"Opportunistic Peacebuilders? International Organizations, Private Military Training and State-building after War," in Roland Paris and Tim Sisk, eds., The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Post-war Peace Operations (London: Routledge, 2008)

"Contracting for Services in US Military Operations," in Derek S. Reveron and Judith Hicks Stiehm, eds., Inside Defense: Understanding the US Military in the 21st Century (New York: Palgrave, 2008)

"Private Security," in Paul D. Williams, ed., Security Studies: An Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2008).

"The Emerging Market for Private Military Services and the Problems of Regulation," in Simon Chesterman and Chia Lehnardt, eds., From Mercenaries to Markets: The Rise and Regulation of Private Military Companies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). 

"Political Institutions and Military Effectiveness: Contemporary United States and United Kingdom," in Risa Brooks and Elizabeth Stanley-Mitchell, eds., Creating Military Power: The Sources of Military Effectiveness (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

"Selling Security: Tradeoffs in State Regulation of the Private Security Industry," in Thomas Jager and Gerhard Kummel, eds., Private Military and Security Companies: Chances, Problems, Pitfalls, and Prospects (VS: Verlog, 2007).

"The Marketization of Force: Adventurous Defense, Institutional Malformation, and Conflict," in Jonathan Kirshner, ed. Globalization and National Security (New York: Routledge, 2006).

"Losing Control of the Profession through Outsourcing?" in Don Snider and Lloyd Matthews, The Future of the Army Profession, 2nd Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005).

"Private Military Training: A Challenge to US Army Professionalism?" in Don Snider and Gayle Watkins, eds. The Future of the Army Profession (New York: McGraw Hill, 2002).

"US military responses to post-Cold War missions" in Theo Farrell and Terry Terriff, eds., The Sources of Military Change: Military Organizations and Their Changing Environments in the Modern Era (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2002)

Other Publications

"People (including me) used to think that the private military industry couldn't govern itself. We were wrong." Monkey Cage (The Washington Post), April 12, 2016.

"Where are the socially responsible companies in the arms industry?" GlobalPost February 15, 2013.

"Monitoring the Global Private Military and Security Industry: What do we know, what do we need to know, and how can we know it?," with Mark Berlin and Karl Kruse, IGCC Occasional Paper No. 4 (2011).

"Are Private Security Contractors Performing Inherently Governmental Functions?" Testimony. Public Hearing, Commission on Wartime Contracting. Dirkson Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 18 June, 2010.

"Mercenaries," Encyclopedia of Globalization, edited by George Ritzer, Blackwell (2010).

"Private Military and Security Companies," in Encyclopedia of Global Studies, edited by Mark Juergensmeyer and Helmut K. Anheier, 2010.

"Private security contracting undermines democratic control of U.S. Foreign Policy," in "The Mercenary Debate: Three Views," The American Interest, Summer 2009.

"The real Blackwater controversy," San Diego Union, 20 June 2008.

"NGOs, Corporations and Security Transformation," Human Security Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 3 March 2008.

"After Blackwater, Four Fundamental Questions about Our Democracy," San Francisco Chronicle, 8 October 2007.

"Private Security Companies and the Future of War," Orbis, (spring 2006).

"Hired Guns," Worth Magazine, (January 2006).

"Think Again: Mercenaries," Foreign Policy, July/August 2004.

"What are those contractors doing in Iraq?" Washington Post, Outlook, 9 May 2004, p. B1.

Comment on "The Gap," The National Interest, No. 26, winter 2000/01.

"Military Perspective and Civilian Control in post-Cold War Peace Operations," Proceedings of the 93rd Annual Meeting, American Society of International Law, 214 (2000).

"Reconciling Culture and Change," in Michael Duffy, Theo Farrell and Geoffrey Sloan, eds., Culture and Command (Exeter: Strategic Policy Studies Group, 2000).

"Military Reluctance To Intervene in Low-Level Conflicts: A Crisis?" in Vincent Davis, ed., Civil-Military Relations and the Not-Quite Wars of the Present and the Future, (Carlisle Barracks: Strategic Studies Institute, 1996).