Importance of the “Practice-Research-Training” Nexus in Peacebuilding

EDITORIAL, 7 Dec 2020

#670 | Abbas Aroua | Cordoba Peace Institute Geneva – TRANSCEND Media Service

In a good university hospital, one cannot imagine the absence of one of the three pillars for the good functioning of a health institution: practice, training and research in the field of medicine and health sciences. Many other fields of human activity follow the same scheme to improve knowledge accumulation, knowledge management and sharing, and knowledge in practice.

Peacebuilding, the equivalent of medicine in “social health”, benefits highly from this scheme to improve its approaches and tools and to be more effective and impactful. In fact, the development of peace studies in the last seven decades was grounded on the “practice- training-research” triad.

Practice opens new avenues for research and provides researchers with new ideas and themes to explore as well as precious raw material from the field to exploit. It prevents them from going around in circles, investigating what has already been explored.

Research has various functions in this process: when it is practice-oriented and actionable, it informs practice: it helps in analyzing the conflict, understanding the context, elaborating the best strategy of intervention and designing the most effective peace process.

When it is theory-oriented, it helps in theorizing and formalizing the lessons learned from practice to improve the knowledge base of peacebuilding.

When it is policy-oriented, it helps in developing the most effective peace promotion messaging to policy makers and other influencers.

Practice Research Training

The outcome of sound research allows improvement in the curricula used for training and capacity building. It helps in updating methods to be able to cope with new situations and emerging issues.

The improved curricula equip trainees with effective theoretical tools to perform, in their duties as peace actors, evidence-based practice in the field.

And so the loop goes on and on.

For this loop to function effectively and produce innovative results in peacebuilding, the research has to be matched with the mission and needs of the peace organization, the training has to be tailored to the profile of the trainees and the practice has to be context-sensitive.

The absence of one the three components of this magic combination, “practice-training-research”, deprives the peace organization of an important dimension of peace promotion and prevents it from benefiting from a powerful synergy capable of boosting the impact of the action of the peace organization in the field.


Abbas Aroua is a medical physicist and adjunct professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Lausanne University, Switzerland. He is director of the Cordoba Peace Institute Geneva and Convener for the Arab world of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.

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