Source: Johansen, Jørgen. 2009. “International Peace Research Institute.” In The Oxford international encyclopedia of peace, edited by Nigel Young, 457-458. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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International Peace Research Institute.
The International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) is based in Oslo, Norway. PRIO was launched in 1959 by Johan Galtung and other researchers at the Institute for Social Research in Norway who believed a new institute with a main focus on peace and conflict research was needed. The formal organizational link to the Institute for Social Research was cut in 1966 and PRIO became one of the world’s first institutions with the sole aim of carrying out research relevant to the understanding of conditions for peace. Several of the early staff members had already conducted research on topics such as nationalism, relations between foreign policy attitudes and personality, and Gandhian ethics. The philosopher Arne Naess was also an influence. Director Erik Rinde at the Institute for Social Research played a major role in the founding of PRIO, and Professor Otto Klineberg contributed important advice to the planning of the first research programs. During the first five years of PRIO’s existence, five new programs were initiated annually and provided a broad platform for the research to come.
From day one, the research has been policy-relevant and solution-oriented. The goal was to create new valuable knowledge aiming to reduce violence and belligerent methods in conflicts. Strong links to the peace movement (including volunteer workers who were conscientious objectors) as well as the establishment, fed ideas into the institute. Several of the staff members were former or present activists in peace and other social movements.
In the 1970s, PRIO hit the headlines as a result of a report on intelligence installations in Norway written by Owen Wilkes and Nils Petter Gledtisch. After years of collecting data, a lot of fieldwork, and acquiring detailed knowledge about the technical side of intelligence equipment, they could identify several installations, their function, and role in the U.S. intelligence system. For several years the project was financed by the Norwegian Research Council for Science and Humanities. The publication resulted in both of them being accused of spying and they were found guilty by the Norwegian Supreme Court in 1982. One consequence of this case was a serious discussion about the legal limitations and implications on research on military installations.
PRIO hosts two international peer-reviewed journals: The Journal of Peace Research was established in 1964 with Johan Galtung as editor and Security Dialog was first published in 1970 under the name The Bulletin of Peace Proposals (which ceased publication in the 1980s).
Projects carried out at PRIO are today organized within three programs and one center. The Security program focuses on the ways in which individual states, the European Union, and the United Nations respond to a range of security challenges, while at the same time exploring new approaches that do not emphasize the state as the primary referent of security. The Ethics, Norms, and Identities program addresses normative dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding and considers how different identities influence, and are influenced by, the dynamics of conflict and peace. The Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (CRPB) program undertakes research, policy analysis, and dialogue projects.
A Comprehensive Study of Civil War is a center that aims to clarify the ways in which actors respond to civil war, in all its phases from onset to postconflict, whether as primary participants, general citizenry, or intervening powers.
The Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT), which includes the world’s only online global database of small arms transfers, is run in cooperation with PRIO. It contains over 250,000 records detailing transfers between some 250 states and territories over the period 1962–2003.
In addition to their offices in Oslo, PRIO also has a separate office in Nicosia, in Cyprus. The center in Nicosia is committed to research and dialogue aimed at contributing to an informed public debate on key issues relevant to an eventual settlement of the Cyprus problem. Researchers include both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
PRIO has an international staff of approximately seventy, of whom fifty are researchers. In addition, through cooperation with universities, some doctoral candidates are placed at PRIO, and they also run a Master’s degree course together with Bjørknes College. PRIO is organized as an independent foundation governed by a board of seven. The Director since 2001 is Stein Tönnesson. The budgeted turnover for PRIO as a whole in 2008 is approximately 10 million Euros. The Institute has a bottom-up and project-based budget model, in which all research engagements depend on the acquisition of external funding. Nearly 90 percent of the budget is financed through projects. The main contributors are the Norwegian Research Council, Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the European Union, the World Bank, and the Norwegian Defense Ministry.