The project “Knowledge for Peace. Understanding research-policy-practice synergies” aims to improve peacebuilding practice by looking at how we generate research and knowledge about peace and its components.

More specifically the project focuses on transitional justice processes in Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Mozambique. These processes seek to address massive human rights violations of the past in order to ensure a future of sustainable peace and development and can include truth commissions, prosecutions of perpetrators and reparations programmes for victims and others.

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 understand ‘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.

In order to shed light on this under-researched area our project studies research-policy-practice synergies in transitional justice, namely:

  • How knowledge is generated;
  • How the boundaries of knowledge come to be determined;
  • Which forms of knowledge are considered to be more legitimate; and
  • How the politics of knowledge production shapes the types of policies which are considered, designed and implemented.

Our findings will then allow us to develop recommendations on how to enhance research-policy-practice synergies beyond the focus on transitional justice, and with a relevance for peacebuilding and development more broadly.

The objectives and phases of the project are thus four-fold:

  1. An analysis of the discursive and material practices of transitional justice;
  2. An exploration of how knowledge about ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ is produced, the politics of this process, and how knowledge is exchanged between different actors and between research‐policy‐practice domains of activity;
  3. An analysis of what the first two processes mean for which types of policies are enacted and what types of policy options might be overlooked, marginalized and/or missing;
  4. A set of recommendations for how actors can strengthen and optimize research‐policy‐practice synergies to improve research 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.


The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation under the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme). R4d supports research focusing on tackling global problems, particularly in least developed, low- and middle income countries.