Sustainable Peace and Human Rights

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  • With the Sustainable Peace and Human Rights Programme, the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) addresses two of the three primary purposes of the United Nations: the maintenance of international peace and security and the protection of human rights. It develops understanding of modern threats to international peace and security and the responses to these threats, emphasizing peacebuilding as an approach to achieving sustainable peace after conflict, and human security as a framework to address the full range of natural and human-made threats to individuals. The programme’s approach underlines the mutually-reinforcing connections between security, human rights, humanitarian protection, development, good governance, environmental change and natural disasters, which will be reflected in its conceptual and practical links with parallel UNU-ISP programmes.

    Among the specific research areas are: human security and governance in the context of natural disasters, peacebuilding, transitional justice, rule of law and the responsibility to protect, drug trafficking, the death penalty, justice and climate change negotiations, democratization and climate change, and private military companies in post-conflict development.
    The programme is closely linked to the research and teaching activities of postgraduate programmes of the Institute, including the UNU-ISP Master of Science in Sustainability, Development, and Peace and a forthcoming PhD programme that is expected to be launched in September 2012. The programme further contributes to other teaching and capacity development activities of the Institute, such as the Postgraduate Course on Building Resilience to Climate Change and other short-term postgraduate and credited courses.

    Twinning

    The programme collaborates with the UNU-ISP twin institute — the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) — on several of its research projects. In fact most of the projects have direct or at least indirect relevance to countries in West Africa and UNU-INRA will be engaged to assist in identifying and collecting expertise on human security, governance, natural disasters, transitional justice, local experiences in peacebuilding, climate change negotiations and justice.

    The programme will seek UNU-INRA collaboration when developing its research on transitional justice and reconciliation, the responsibility to protect and prevent mass atrocities, and human rights and counter-terrorism. In teaching and capacity development activities, the programme will attempt to exchange students and post-doctoral fellows with INRA, offering the opportunity of practical training and fieldwork in Ghana. The programme will plan joint activities and joint project workshops, and invite UNU-INRA experts to collaborate and publish together with UNU-ISP researchers. The programme will continue to disseminate research outcomes to UNU-INRA and its networks in Africa, and facilitate the dissemination of UNU-INRA outcomes through the programme’s own networks. Opportunities will be sought for joint academic activities and fundraising, linking the governance of natural resources, the main research area of UNU-INRA, with peace and human rights — the main focus of this programme.

    Focal Point

    Dr. Vesselin Popovski, Senior Academic Programme Officer, is the focal point for this programme.

    Purpose

    The programme seeks to address the evolving nature of present-day conflict and threats to human rights and human security. It develops policy-relevant scientific knowledge on pressing global problems of international peace and security, the continued need for good governance, the promotion and protection of human rights and sensitive ways of addressing past crimes. This knowledge is disseminated to the scholarly and policymaking communities through edited books, policy and research briefs, articles in peer reviewed journals, capacity building exercises, online publications and other dissemination vehicles.

    Approach

    Research is undertaken through collaborative projects at the global and regional levels, employing broad networks spanning the academic and policy communities and civil society. Each project brings together scholars from various continents, and from developing countries in particular, and produces concrete outcomes, mainly academic publications, policy briefs and research briefs, with a strong focus on policy perspectives and practical experiences. The programme works closely with relevant actors within the UN system in assessing research needs and developing best practices and to disseminate targeted policy recommendations.

    Links with the parallel UNU-ISP programmes facilitate a comprehensive approach to these problems that engages perspectives from development, environmental science and conflict studies, and strives to bridge the natural and social sciences. The programme collaborates with UNU institutes and units including the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies, the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security, the UNU International Institute for Global Health, the UNU liaison office in New York, the new UNU Institute for the Alliance of Civilizations, as well as UNU associated institutions including Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law (IEGL) and International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE).

    The programme also collaborates with universities in Japan including the University of Tokyo, Waseda University, Keio University, the International Christian University, Aoyama Gakuin University, Chuo University, Tokiwa University and Doshisha University. It works closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on various topics, such as disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, human security, the responsibility to protect, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. It offers also valuable assistance to the Ministry of Defense; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Association. The programme implements training for civilian peacebuilders with Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center, and engages with Japanese and international civil society organizations in many of its research and outreach activities.

    Gender

    All projects under the programme were designed to ensure equitable geographical and gender representation, including selection of project participants and access to research outcomes, with particular attention to developing countries. The programme includes research projects that specifically consider the gender dimensions of peacebuilding and human security. It will continue to engage experts and organize workshops on gender empowerment and on the role of women in peace and security, and publish and disseminate the outcomes, as it successfully did in the past. The programme has a strong record of ensuring gender and geographical balance in selection of staff, post-doctoral fellows and interns.

    Target Audience

    The programme seeks to advance academic debate in the fields of peace and conflict studies, international relations, international law, governance, human rights, ethics, transitional justice and gender studies. It develops and disseminates targeted recommendations and approaches to inform policymaking at the national, regional and sub-regional levels, within the UN system, and in civil society organizations. Many of the primary beneficiaries are parts of the UN system, including UN Secretariat in New York, UN offices in Geneva and Vienna, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNESCO and UNICEF.

    The beneficiaries of the programme also include students, scholars, postdoctoral fellows, academic communities and the larger public in various parts of the world. The programme presents its research through papers at leading international conferences including the International Studies Association, the Academic Council on the United Nations System, the British International Studies Association and the American Society for International Law.

    Among the beneficiaries are also many partners within Japan including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Defense; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Education; Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center; the University of Tokyo; and Waseda University.

    The programme informs and disseminates its publications to all other UNU institutes and some of the UNU associated institutions (IEGL and INCORE) and to the UNU Council members.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Influencing policymaking in the United Nations System
    Target: The programme informs policymaking within the UN Secretariat in New York, UN offices in Geneva and Vienna, the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNESCO and UNICEF.
    How: The programme collaborates closely with relevant organs of the UN system, aiming to inform effective policymaking as well as to develop future research appropriate to pressing requirements. UNU-ISP is an initiating member of the Peacebuilding Community of Practice, a diverse UN-wide community for peacebuilding experts to share experiences and lessons learned from a wide range of operations. The programme will collaborate closely with the Peacebuilding Commission, focusing on satisfying the pressing need to establish clear guidelines for peace consolidation and implementation.

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the international level
    Target: The programme targets influential policymakers at the national, regional and international levels, including member states’ missions at the UN, foreign ministries and international civil society. It influences policymaking within relevant ministries and public sector actors related to governance, human rights and justice.
    How: Research findings are distilled into policy recommendations and presented in an accessible, actionable format through UNU policy briefs, as well as through public forums, book launches, workshops and consultations with government officials and NGO workers.

    Impact: Rethink/revisit existing theories/policies
    Target: The programme further develops existing theories and approaches including human security and peacebuilding.
    How: The programme’s collaborative, integrated approach and focus on policy perspectives facilitates innovative research. The “Human Security and Natural Disasters” project expands the concept of human security to encompass threats during and after natural disasters, while the project “Peacebuilding in Conflict-Affected Societies” brings local perspectives and experiences to scholarly debates on peacebuilding.

    Impact: Furthering knowledge in an academic field
    Target: The programme seeks to advance academic debate in the fields of peace and conflict studies, international relations, international law, governance, human rights, ethics, transitional justice, and gender studies.
    How: The programme undertakes innovative research, facilitated by its broad networks spanning academic, policy and civil society communities. UNU’s orientation towards pressing issues on the UN agenda bring fresh perspective to existing academic knowledge and debates.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: Capacity development and outreach activities will target policymakers in national governments, lawyers and civil society, including human rights NGOs. In particular, activities will focus on UN member states who contribute troops, police or civilians to peacebuilding or peacekeeping missions; local peacebuilders; and conflict mediators.
    How: The programme brings together practitioners and academics to share best practices and exchange successful and unsuccessful approaches, including lessons learned from past experience. Several projects include a specific component designed to build knowledge and capacity in developing countries by training policymakers. In training expert civilian peacebuilders, it contributes its own expertise with the aim of imparting participants with the necessary knowledge and practical skills for their future work. Workshops provide a forum for mutual exchange of knowledge and practice, both disseminating the latest research findings and feeding into new and future projects. Research projects will identify requirements and gaps in capacity and potential assets that could be employed to meet these needs.

    Research Findings

    Projects under this programme address complex research questions including:

    • How can the concept of human security enhance understanding of, and responses to, natural disasters?
    • What are the risks and benefits of private security companies taking part in post-conflict reconstruction and how can this involvement be better regulated?
    • How can transitional justice mechanisms better incorporate local experiences and perspectives?
    • What are the values and institutions that shape the evolution of the rule of law in different cultural contexts?
    • How do human rights concerns, international pressure and regional dynamics influence policy on the death penalty in countries emerging from conflict or transitioning to democracy?
    • How does drug trafficking operate across the regions of Meso-America, West Africa and Central Asia and what impact does it have on transit states?
    • How does democratization influence climate change adaption and mitigation?

    Policy Bridging

    Projects under this programme are designed and developed in close collaboration with policymakers to assess what knowledge is needed and how it should be delivered. Each research project incorporates best practices and lessons learned from policymakers and prioritizes the interaction of scholarly and practical perspectives. The projects usually begin with planning workshops in which the future beneficiaries are invited alongside the experts to inform their expectations for the project and shape the scope and methodologies of the research. Research findings from each project are distilled into policy recommendations and presented in an accessible, actionable format through UNU Policy Briefs, as well as through public forums, book launches, workshops and consultations with government officials and NGO workers. The programme has a strong record of successful collaborative cross-regional research, engaging hundreds of scholars from developing countries and resulting in publications that have been successfully disseminated among policymakers all over the world.

    Value Added

    The programme offers added value through its comprehensive approach to problems of peace, security and human rights, engaging perspectives from development, environmental science and conflict studies and strives to bridge the natural and social sciences. It brings unique perspectives and opportunities for collaborative research through close links within the UN system (including PBC, the Peacebuilding Support Office, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF), the global academic community (including the University of Oxford, El Colegio de México, the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Griffith University in Brisbane, the East-West Center, The University of Tokyo and Waseda University), the wider policymaking community at the regional and national levels, and civil society.

    The programme emphasizes issues of high priority on the UN agenda and works closely with relevant actors within the UN system to assess research needs and develop best practices and to disseminate targeted policy recommendations. Each research project incorporates best practices and lessons learned from policymakers, and prioritizes the interaction of scholarly and practical perspectives.

    Dissemination

    Research findings from each project are distilled into targeted policy recommendations to ensure dissemination in a relevant and actionable form. Specific dissemination vehicles include academic publications, research briefs, policy briefs, online articles, public conferences and seminars, workshops and consultations with policymakers. In each case the content is tailored to the specific needs of the target audience. Impact is maximized by maintaining consistently high academic quality (evaluated by peer review, citation monitoring and student evaluations) and policy relevance. Research results also feed into training and capacity development activities.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    Most projects proceed on a two-year timeline from project initiation to completion, resulting in an academic publication within a third year. A research or policy brief is produced within one year of each major research workshop.

    Evaluation

    Outputs are evaluated through the academic peer review process and citation monitoring to ensure consistently high academic quality and policy relevance. The programme will also monitor for evident acknowledgement of policy impact within the UN system. Indicators of particular importance are citations in leading peer-reviewed journals, inclusion of outputs in UN reports and reviews of academic publications. Monitoring of web traffic (including volume, type and source of hits) will be utilized to assess the impact of online articles.

    Challenges

    Conflict and peace, peacebuilding, justice and human rights are usually highly politicized, debated and controversial themes, posing research difficulties, while at the same time bringing a diversity of theoretical approaches. The programme will aim to resolve these challenges by collaborating with a broad network of research institutes and actors on the ground. In the current financial climate most funding bodies have reduced the number and amount of grants offered for social science research. The programme is thus redoubling its efforts to secure external funding, including by engaging in joint fundraising with its partners abroad and within Japan.

    Expected Duration

    Program Start: 1 January 2010.

  • Activities within the programme will involve cooperation between the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace and 22 partners:

    • UNU International Institute for the Alliance of Civilizations
    • UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
    • UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security
    • UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa
    • UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe
    • UNU Press
    • UNU Office of Communications, Tokyo
    • UNU Office at UNESCO, Paris
    • Griffith University
    • Department of Peacekeeping Operations
    • International Atomic Energy Agency
    • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
    • Peacebuilding Commission
    • Peacebuilding Support Office
    • United Nations Development Programme
    • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
    • United Nations Children’s Fund
    • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    • UN Office on Drugs and Crime
    • UN Secretariat
    • UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect
    • Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Title: 01. The Concept of Human Security and Natural Disasters
    Publication/Output Type: Research Brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 02. Policy Implications of Applying Human Security to Natural Disasters
    Publication/Output Type: Policy Brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 03. Human Security and Natural Disasters
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 04. Practical Handbook on Human Security in Natural Disaster Planning and Responses
    Publication/Output Type: Practical handbook for policymakers
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 05. The Politics of the Death Penalty in Countries in Transition
    Publication/Output Type: Research brief / policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 06. The Politics of the Death Penalty in Countries in Transition
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic volume
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 07. Peacebuilding in Conflict-Affected Societies: Local Experiences and Perspectives
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 08. Transitional Justice: Local Experiences and Perspectives
    Publication/Output Type: Research brief / policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 09. Transitional Justice: Local Experiences and Perspectives
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 10. Democratization and Climate Change
    Publication/Output Type: Research brief / policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 11. Democratization and Climate Change
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic volume
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 12. Between the Lines: Drug Trafficking in Transit States
    Publication/Output Type: Research brief / policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 13. Between the Lines: Drug Trafficking in Transit States
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 14. Rule of Law in Asia
    Publication/Output Type: Research brief / policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 15. Rule of Law in Asia
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 16. Private Military Companies and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development
    Publication/Output Type: Policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 17. Private Military Companies and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Date Published: 2013

    Title: 18. Building Governance Capacity for Natural Disasters in Asia
    Publication/Output Type: Policy brief
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: 19. Building Governance Capacity for Natural Disasters in Asia
    Publication/Output Type: Edited academic book
    Publisher: UNU Press
    Date Published: 2013

  • Dr. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Director
    United Nations University
    Institute for Sustainability and Peace
    United Nations University
    5-53-70 Jingumae
    Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    Japan 150-8925

    T: +81 3 5467-1212
    F: +81 3 3499-2828
    E-mail: