Research Project

Non-military peacebuilding at the heart of a new approach to security


In the last thirty years, 74.6% of conflicts ended due to peace agreements (Fisas 2015, 44). Despite the data that demonstrates the advantages of non-military peacebuilding tools, states often turn to military responses to violent conflict. Many senior officials and researchers have recently highlighted that the nature of conflict has changed and become more complex and multilayered; and the international community has arguably failed to respond to security challenges both internally and externally.

Since the initial conceptualization of peacebuilding, foundational theorists such as Johan Galtung and John Paul Lederach have emphasised bottom-up methods and reflectiveness in practice. A number of well-researched reports and reference documents have, over the years, outlined conflict prevention and peacebuilding principles such as the importance of local ownership or of responding to the root causes of conflict to enhance long-term peace. Despite the general acceptance of these principles, the military response rather acts as a quick fix often lacking a people-centered, comprehensive, and long-term response.

The aim of the research project is to change the discourse around responding to security challenges by bringing evidence based facts of methods and non-military peacebuilding tools available to the EU and Member States. Lessons learned and best practices from other organizations such as the OSCE or the UN will prove useful in looking at the EU's potential role in taking the lead on non-military peacebuilding.
Historically, the EU has acted as a peace builder not only as a mediator between conflicting parties, but also as a trading partner and aid donor. Over time, the EU has formulated several external assistant mechanisms such as the instrument contributing to stability and peace (IcSP) and the development and cooperation instrument (DCI). These instruments and the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) have added to the peacebuilding methods available to the EU.

The peace programme research project aims to take another step forward by not only identifying what peacebuilding tools exist and could be better used by EU and Member States, but also tools not always associated with peacebuilding. The research project looks beyond traditional tools and normative approaches in order to build a diverse and analytical toolbox of non-military peacebuilding processes. This toolbox will help different actors understand how to effectively vary their engagement with Governments or local actors. While the report will be made available to EU institutions and Member States, it will also be useful for individual practitioners, civil society organizations, and other actors seeking to engage in non-military peacebuilding.

The report will link the peacebuilding tools to peacebuilding principles and values. Key principles such as local ownership, trust, and long term commitment have long been central to peacebuilding knowledge and theory. By continually linking the tools to the principles, the research emphasizes the interconnectedness not only between theory and practice but also linkages between tools and different sectors of society. Indeed, the tools are meant to target every layer of society, as well as at local, national, regional, and global levels. As many factors impact the long term success of peacebuilding, the tools are not presented in isolation, but linked to the multiple sectors they can impact. This multisectoral approach links community, state, and external actors and emphasises context—integral to address root causes of conflict and generate people centered responses.

The ultimate aim of this toolbox is to make the case for non-military, value-based peacebuilding, as it ensures more effective long-term measures, increases inclusivity and participation, and builds societies. Value based peacebuilding, as opposed to interventions based on interests, build trust, integrity, and credibility.


  • Advocating for a new vision of security, one that is every citizen’s responsibility rather than solely that of the army, or ‘shared security’, a comprehensive vision of security that embodies economic, social, and political aspects;
  • Collate research on non-military peacebuilding responses to conflict and identify gaps in the research;
  • Provide visibility to non-military peacebuilding tools to EU policy makers;
  • Help shape a vision of the role of the EU as a non-military peace broker in international conflicts.


  • Publication of a report
  • Series of events on non-military peacebuilding tools


  • May 2017-August 2017: Collecting data and drafting structure of the report;
    September 2017: First Draft Report and consultation process with relevant partners;
    December 2017: Report finalizing and sending to printers;
    Fist quarter of 2018: Launch of the report and additional opportunities to share the resource.