Human Rights and Peace-Building – University of Copenhagen

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Human Rights and Peace-Building

The research project is planned as a 3,5-year research project and is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. The research project is embedded in an innovative partnership between two institutions, The Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC), University of Copenhagen and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR).

The main research focus of the project is:

  • Generating new knowledge on the relationship between peacebuilding and human rights. Questions include
    • How can human rights and peacebuilding be conceptualised and devised as mutually reinforcing processes and what factors impact the dynamic relation between them?
    • How does the politics of human rights and peace-building play out at the level of global and national governance, and how does this impact the space for social change?
    • How can the cause-effect relationship be researched in complex environments?

 The main objective of the project is:

  • To seek to enhance our understanding of how international actors can most effectively engage in conflict affected countries in order to strengthen processes of human rights and peacebuilding

The particular contribution of the research project will be a focus on the linkages between human rights and peacebuilding in relation to state building and concepts of ‘state fragility’ and to consider development assistance and diplomacy as one of the factors that impact on and are impacted by the intersection of human rights and peacebuilding.

A major part of the work will be carried out by three PhD-students and two Post-Doctoral research fellows who are experienced practitioners in relevant areas, notably human rights and peacebuilding, access to justice, state building, development assistance, etc. These researchers/practitioners bring in extensive knowledge about conflict affected countries, human rights and peacebuilding challenges and efforts in the field, and gaps in current research. Various senior scholars from CRIC and DIHR will also contribute to the project. Deliverable outputs include three PhD dissertations, three book projects and four international seminars.

Examples of projects within the overall research grant

Mie Roesdahl’s PhD will examine processes of social change and political agency in relation to human rights and peace-building. The central aim is to show how the processes and mechanisms of engagement of different actors in promoting human rights compliance of the state have implications for the success of other human rights efforts as well as for sustainable peace-building. The research will study the dynamic relations and discourse development among different sets of actors when engaging on human rights and peace-building agendas such as reporting in the Human Rights Council and establishment of transitional justice mechanisms. The project assumes a complex interplay between local and international politics and between local and international discourses on human rights and peacebuilding – and this shapes the playing field for developing and implementing policies, strategies and mechanisms for human rights and peacebuilding in a given conflict affected state.

The aim of Fergus Kerrigan’s PhD project is to shed light on the challenges of achieving constitutionalism and the rule of law in Kenya in the light of the 2010 constitution. It will focus on the empirical role of justice institutions in tackling challenges of ethnicized and neopatrimonial politics, political violence and legal pluralism. These themes will be examined in a comparative and theoretical light to reflect on the strategies of national and international actors to promote peace, stability and the protection of human rights.

Michelle Parlevliet will in her post doc research publish a book on the basis of her PhD dissertation with the title “Embracing concurrent realities – revisiting the relationship between human rights and conflict resolution”. She will also together with Mie Roesdahl co-edit a special journal issue on human rights and peace-building.  

The first international seminar within the project was held from 16th to 18th of November 2015. The seminar examined the sometimes conflicting, sometimes complementary relationship between human rights and peace-building including the way human rights has been addressed in peace negotiations as part of broader peace processes and in constitutional processes. The seminar brought together numerous researchers, policy makers and practitioners from Denmark and abroad, including Professor of Constitutional Law Christine Bell, Professor of International Law & International Relations Chandra Lekha Sriram, Senior Human Rights Officer Ben Majekodunmi from  the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, Senior Constitutional Expert Rohan Edrisingha from the UN Department of Political Affairs, and Senior Analyst Alan Keenan from International Crisis Group.