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Peace and Governance Programme
Programme Areas

United Nations and International Order

The locus of power, authority, rights and duties in world politics is becoming more diffuse. The international public policy-making stage is becoming increasingly congested as private and public non-state actors jostle alongside national governments in setting and implementing the agenda of the new millennium. The multitude of new actors operate below, between and above states, adding depth and texture to the increasingly rich tapestry of international civil society. Driven by this process, as well as driving this process, international organizations are becoming central - although limited and sometime problematic - actors in world politics. The United Nations plays an important role in this process. The activities of the Peace and Governance Programme in this area analyze and contribute to the UN's roles in meeting some of the most pressing international challenges, in areas such as security, human rights and governance, and address proposals to reform the UN system to enable it to play a more constructive role in the creation and maintenance of international peace and security. Research projects are a significant component of the UNU's activities - typically involving scholars and practitioners in projects that analyze and raise policy options related to peace and good governance. In addition, the Programme is strengthening its activities in the field of training and capacity-building, working with the UN, other international organizations and NGOs, to integrate analysis and policy.

Conflict and Security Studies

The programme's work in Conflict and Security Studies directly reflects the complex and challenging nature of war and peace in the post-Cold War era. While most contemporary conflicts take place primarily within countries, traditional interstate conflicts continue to pose a great threat to international peace and security. New types of conflict and new types of security threats need to be addressed with improved approaches and structures of conflict and security management. The Programme's work focuses on the roots of human, national, regional and international security threats, and the provision of security by civil society, state, regional and international actors. Conflict prevention and peacebuilding receive particular attention in the Programme's efforts to address innovative security provision by civil society, states and international organizations. All projects have a regional or global geographical focus and aim to provide comparative analyses that translate into lessons that can be applied in specific regions or countries by local actors, and globally by the United Nations. While basic research forms the foundation of all projects, most aim to translate their findings into policy relevant recommendations that are shared with policymakers, and into capacity building and training sessions that are offered to educators, researchers and decision makers from civil society, state and regional actors.

Human Rights and Ethics

In envisioning projects on human rights and ethics, the Peace and Governance Programme is working under the following three assumptions. First, human rights and ethics, far from constituting two separate areas of study, have to be understood as two related and complementary fields, each of them contributing to and projecting - particularly through multilateralism - a sense of international community. The second assumption inhabiting the activities in this area is that addressing issues of human rights and ethics is part of a wide conception of human security which is currently emerging - a conception of human security which does not limit itself to traditional security issues, but also encompasses norms and value-judgements. Thirdly, making human rights and ethics a core aspect of the Peace and Governance Programme is meant to contribute to an inquiry on the making and evolution of the contemporary democratic culture, both within borders and among nations. This Programme area therefore contributes to debate regarding the normative underpinnings of the institutions and values that are used to organize our lives.

Policy and Institutional Frameworks

Governance refers to the formation and stewardship of the formal and informal rules and institutions that regulate the public realm, the arena in which state as well as economic and societal actors interact to make and implement decisions. It describes the modalities, values and institutions that we employ to organize human life at all levels, within and between societies. Global governance refers not to world government, but to an additional, mediating layer of international decision-making between governments and international organizations which is comprehensive, multisectoral, democratically accountable, and inclusive of civil society actors in the shared management of the troubled and fragile world order.