Knowledge for peace. Understanding research, policy and practice synergies

Project leader

Laurent Goetschel

Financed by

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Time frame

01.04.2016 – 31.03.2019


Project Homepage


Focusing on transitional justice as a sub-field of peacebuilding, the project “Knowledge for Peace” looks at how we generate research and knowledge about peace and its components. We do this to be able to improve synergies between research, policy and practice and ultimately produce better (i.e. reliable, critical, policy relevant and useful) knowledge for peacebuilding.

Our research focuses on transitional justice processes such as truth commissions, prosecutions, reparations, traditional justice, and other processes in three countries: Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Mozambique.

Research Question

How is knowledge about peace generated? What determines the boundaries of such knowledge? Which forms of knowledge are considered more legitimate? How do the politics of knowledge production shape the types of policies, which are considered, designed and implemented?

Research Strategy

The starting point of our research project is the hypothesis that improved synergies between research, policy and practice will produce better knowledge for peacebuilding. We define ‘better’ knowledge for peacebuilding as reliable, critical, policy-relevant and useful knowledge for practitioners. These synergies would consist of knowledge exchange, production and assessment through a series of interactions between actors, which would not be based on hierarchies of knowledge but on a mutual desire to produce better knowledge. We add to previous knowledge on this subject by investigating that which has been under‐researched: the process of knowledge production itself. This draws on, but goes beyond, studies which focus on how to translate complex realities to policy actors, on how research feeds into development practice and can be used by development practitioners, on how researchers can justify programmes or convince donors, or on a taken for granted assumption about the importance of the relationship between research, policy and practice.

Researchers from swisspeace, the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifique in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and the Centre for Peace and Development of the University of Juba, South Sudan are implementing the project together.