This is the old website of UNU-ISP, which is now part of the new UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). Please visit the new UNU-IAS website at

Peacebuilding in Conflict-Affected Societies


This joint UNU-ISP and McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) research project draws upon local perspectives to deepen understanding of peacebuilding challenges and recommend ways to improve UN and inter-governmental approaches to peacebuilding. The initial planning stage was conducted in collaboration with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) to ensure that the project addresses important gaps in research and best practice.

The international peacebuilding discourse among practitioners and scholars has recently begun to emphasize the importance of local needs and local ownership. However, analysis and research on local needs and ownership in peacebuilding remains underdeveloped, and local voices are not always present. This project addresses these shortcomings, by engaging local peacebuilding experts who have been active within their own country's peacebuilding activities in a series of workshops to explore 1) the legacy of violent conflict; 2) local resources and capacity; 3) the scope, priority and sequencing of peacebuilding activities; and 4) the balance between local and international engagement. After each expert workshop, a public conference is held to share the conclusions with a local audience.

A first workshop was held in Accra, Ghana, in September 2009, featuring experts on peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Burundi, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. The second workshop at the University of Sarajevo in June 2010 engaged scholars and practitioners with experience of peacebuilding activities in their own countries, including Croatia, Guatemala, Kosovo, Mozambique and Timor-Leste, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The project findings are disseminated through a UNU Research Brief (please see below), a workshop report in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (2010), and a forthcoming edited academic volume.


Research Brief No. 2, 2010

Towards a Human Security Approach to Peacebuilding (478 KB PDF)

In recent decades, international peacebuilding and reconstruction after civil wars have managed to promote stability and contain conflict in many regions around the world, ending violence and enabling communities to rebuild their lives and societies. However, the peacebuilding record indicates that there are problems related to the effectiveness and legitimacy of peacebuilding, especially related to the promotion of liberal democracy, market reform and state institutions. This brief considers these limitations and argues that a new human security-based approach may offer insights for a more sustainable form of peacebuilding.

Written by Madoka Futamura, Edward Newman and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh