Our work

Combining research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative and practical solutions.


As an agile think tank with deep-rooted experience of the wider UN system, UNU-CPR is in a position to innovate, identifying new ways to solve interrelated public policy challenges. In some cases, these may be short-term priorities. In others, they may be the beginning of long-term projects that we undertake and to help lead UN policy debates into new and emerging areas of interest to the United Nations and its Member States.

For more information on our research strategy see UNU-CPR's Strategic Priorities 2022-2026.

UNU-CPR's research is delivered through three research pillars:

Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

This research programme helps the UN and its partners develop and implement effective, evidence-based policies to prevent violent conflict around the world. Its goal is to combine evidence and analysis to influence policy discussions in New York and other policy centres and – equally or even more importantly – inform prevention and conflict resolution initiatives in the field. 

Equitable Development 

Research under the Equitable Development pillar generates new evidence, and assesses and develops policy tools that support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDGs 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reducing inequality) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Anticipatory Action and Innovation 

Our focus on prevention has meant building a foresight capacity, delivering scenario-based futures analyses, identifying new trends that may affect the work of the multilateral system, and offering innovative solutions for them. In particular, it has meant work on the role of AI-driven technologies in creating new risks, researching the effects of newly generated large-scale population movements, and examining how the COVID-19 response may have affected the health and wellbeing of people around the world.

UNU-CPR research is implemented via strategic projects: 

For a full list of current and completed projects aligned with our research pillars and tailored to the needs of our partners and target audiences within and beyond the UN system visit: https://unu.edu/cpr/projects

UNU-CPR research is also reflected in several research themes that reflect key challenges facing the multilateral system:

Governance of AI

This theme is designed to inform the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States as they attempt to strengthen the global governance of Artificial Intelligence, exploring ethical considerations and potential policies and regulatory measures.

Climate, Peace, and Security 

This theme explores the ways that climate change or environmental degradation affect peace and security concerns, and identifies how best to respond to these so-called ‘climate-security’ challenges in peacebuilding contexts.

Conflict Prevention, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding

This theme explores strategies and mechanisms to help prevent or mitigate sources of conflict. It covers current dynamics and evolving practice within UN-led peacekeeping and peace building, and also how diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and peace building interventions by other multilateral and regional bodies, or individual Member States, can help mitigate and prevent conflict.

Modern Slavery

This theme consolidates new thinking and evidence to help inform policies and practices to accelerate efforts to eradicate modern slavery, including human trafficking, on a global scale.

Migration for Development and Equality

This theme examines the potential of migration to reduce inequalities and contribute to development. It seeks to transform understanding of the relationships between migration, development and inequality, translating new knowledge and ideas into policies and practices which improve the lives of migrants and enhance delivery of the SDGs.