Thematic Areas

A synthesis of research and practice

Thematic Areas of Peacebuilding

The portal targets an audience of peacebuilding practitioners, policymakers, and scholars, seeking to build and share their knowledge and experience. The thematic areas aim to enhance the work of the peacebuilding field by synthesizing key questions and debates in terms of their practical and implementation challenges. As such, the content does not offer how-to guides, nor advocate for a particular position; instead, we seek to present a diversity of perspectives in the interest of gaining a common understanding of approaches to peacebuilding.

Each of the five thematic areas contains an introduction, providing an overview of the topic and how it is covered on the portal, and specific sub-topics. Each sub-topic contains the following material, with some variation:

Definitions and Conceptual Issues: Providing an overview of seminal, overarching terms - their definitions, areas of overlap, and points of departure. Conceptual issues articulate contestation over the terms and explain any lack of clarity or consensus around definitions.

Sub-topic and Peacebuilding Processes: Generally speaking, this heading is a theoretical and historical one, framing the role of the subsection topic in conflict and in peace. This may encompass, where applicable, the subsection’s framework in international legal standards, a discussion of the history and evolution of the subsection in conflict, as well as the role it plays toward peacebuilding.

Actors and Activities: This concrete heading discusses programs, models, frameworks and components central to the sub-topic, as well as actors that implement them. This may include discussion about overarching strategies or models that serve to guide the actors’ intervention. This section is not meant to be all encompassing, but rather limited to peacebuilding and a sense of the dynamic between actors, particularly international and local actors. Activities includes both components, which are different mechanisms, frameworks, strategies or models, and supporting activities, which refer more to activities undertaken in support.

Key Debates and Implementation Challenges: Key debates address significant theoretical or practical areas of contestation and their consequences, connecting the academic and practitioner debates. Implementation challenges reach across activities and present common problems found. This includes an articulation of the main positions/arguments at hand, among both practitioners and academics. As this is not a how-to guide, nor are we advocating a particular approach, the implementation challenges are not intended to tell the user what do to or how to implement. Instead, this section offers grounding in the common obstacles faced, specific to the subtopic and specific to peacebuilding to inform the user’s understanding.

Case Studies: Providing a brief glimpse of how a component, challenge or debate manifests in practice, the case studies are not mean to be comprehensive. We encourage users to submit comments and suggestions for further elaborating the cases. In that sense, these are envisioned a starting point for lessons learned and shared experience.

Key References: This selection of documents and websites is meant to highlight some useful material for further reading. An emphasis has been placed on highlighting southern sources, when possible, and also on publicly accessible materials.

Bibliography: A selection of documents and websites for more in-depth research, and to indicate the material that informed the content of the website.

The content for these thematic areas was developed by a team of consultants, research assistants and interns. In the interest of producing a balanced, high quality product, the material was reviewed by leading scholars and practitioners from around the world and revised on the basis of their comments to ensure it captured the current state of research and practice. However, the portal is conceived of as a living tool – to be informed by the perspectives, experience and knowledge of our users. As such, we warmly welcome comments and materials from our users to ensure the portal remains a rich and relevant tool.

The news, reports, and analyses herein are selected due to there relevance to issues of peacebuilding, or their significance to policymakers and practitioners. The content prepared by HPCR International is meant to summarize main points of the current debates and does not necessarily reflect the views of HPCR International or the Program of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In addition, HPCR International and contributing partners are not responsible for the content of external publications and internet sites linked to this portal.