Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Develop international networks to research peace and trust

Apply for funding to develop international research networks to address challenges around peace and trust.

You must be a principal investigator at an eligible research organisation.

Your research networking activities must:

  • address challenges highlighted by the 2021 UN ‘International Year of Peace and Trust’
  • be within AHRC’s remit
  • involve collaboration with international partners.

You can apply for up to £60,000. We will fund:

  • 80% of the full economic cost for UK researchers
  • 100% full economic cost for some international costs.

Projects can last up to two years.

Who can apply

You can apply if you are a principal investigator at an eligible research organisation. This is any UK higher education institution that receives grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies, or a UKRI-recognised research institute or organisation.

Proposals have to be submitted by an eligible UK research organisation but must involve collaboration with other organisations, including internationally.

The eligibility criteria for research organisations and individuals is published in section 3 of the AHRC research funding guide.

International co-investigators are allowed in line with standard AHRC policy, but subject to a cap on total international co-investigator costing to 50% of the total grant costs.

There is no limit on the number of co-investigators which may be included on applications, but we would expect any applications proposing more than two co-investigators to include one or more international co-investigators.

Equitable international partnerships are a requirement and wider non-academic collaborations are strongly encouraged. For example with:

  • community groups
  • third sector
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • policy-makers
  • businesses
  • creative, cultural and heritage sectors.

What we're looking for


Within this highlight notice, AHRC aims to support the development of equitable, boundary crossing international research partnerships grounded in arts and humanities research. This research should address the aims of:

We welcome international research networking proposals which explore the inter-connections and intersections between peace, trust and human rights and wider issues such as:

  • poverty and inequality
  • environmental change
  • health
  • food systems
  • urbanisation
  • technological change.

We encourage boundary crossing proposals which cross the following boundaries:

  • conflict
  • cultural
  • geographic
  • national
  • language
  • disciplinary
  • sectoral
  • policy
  • professional
  • organisational
  • other.

In line with the principles of the UN International Year of Peace and Trust 2021, this opportunity seeks to:

  • promote international research cooperation and networking
  • encourage sharing best practices, learning and experiences
  • enhance human resource capacity and support an enabling environment for research
  • encourage innovation in equitable, inclusive, ethical and environmentally sustainable approaches to research networking
  • tackle the intractable aspects of conflict, fragility and insecurity and address the challenges of, and opportunities for, building peace, trust and respect for human rights.

Research networks may focus on any context globally where addressing conflict, violence or human rights abuses and building peace, security, justice and trust is a major issue,. This includes:

  • fragile states
  • contexts transitioning from conflict and fragility or where there may be risks of conflict (re-)emerging
  • populations which are marginalised, denied their human rights or displaced by conflict and violence, including:
    • diaspora, refugee, displaced and stateless populations.

There are no specific country or geographic priorities, but through the highlight notice we hope to support a diverse portfolio of networking projects working in different contexts, including ‘under-researched’ contexts.

We particularly welcome proposals which seek to share learning and experience across different geographical, cultural, conflict or fragile contexts, including proposals taking comparative or contrasting approaches, where cross-cutting fragilities could be identified or scoped for identification of future risk.

Interdisciplinary boundary crossing proposals grounded in the arts and humanities are welcomed, including proposals that cross research council remits. Where proposals extend beyond the AHRC’s subject remit, they should ensure that they bring arts and humanities research expertise and distinctive arts and humanities research concepts, ideas or approaches centrally into the development of relevant cross-disciplinary fields.

In order to be considered under this highlight notice, applications should:

  • draw significantly on relevant arts and humanities research literature, context and concepts or approaches
  • include significant research expertise within the remit of the AHRC.

Research areas

We will welcome proposals which promote international research collaboration, grounded in the arts and humanities, which address any aspect of the 2021 UN International Year of Peace and Trust and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ in any geographic or cultural context. This includes proposals which seek to promote learning across different cultural, geographic and historic contexts.

We welcome cross-disciplinary proposals seeking to address the multidimensional nature of conflict and violence, and the cross sections between:

  • conflict
  • peacebuilding
  • trust
  • fragility
  • security
  • violence
  • human rights
  • access to justice
  • identity politics.

Other challenges include:

  • inequality
  • climate and environmental change
  • gender or identity driven inequalities
  • marginalisation
  • displacement
  • forced migration
  • rapid urbanisation
  • public health challenges
  • access to education and training
  • heritage at risk
  • disasters.

Through your research network we wish to support the development of:

  • contextually informed research engaged with local cultures, histories, identities, knowledges and communities
  • equitable, ethical and conflict sensitive partnerships, cross-national collaboration and reciprocal learning
  • interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research innovation bringing together expertise in the arts and humanities with wider knowledge, practices, expertise and experience.

The following illustrate some broad themes under which proposals would be welcomed.

Peacebuilding, resilience, transitions from conflict and reducing violence

Proposals under this heading could address any issues raised by the UN resolution declaring the 2021 International Year for Peace and Trust for the “promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits humanity, in particular future generations”, including the role of civil society organisations.

Proposals could also address related UN SDG 16 targets, for example to “significantly reduce all forms of violence building capacity at all levels to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime”.

Proposals could also investigate ways to:

  • reduce risks and vulnerabilities resulting from a range of intersecting cultural, economic, social environmental and other factors and better prepare communities to respond to diverse or multiple emerging risks
  • tailor preventative, peace and resilience building measures to complex multi-layered local challenges and contexts
  • improve understanding of inter-connecting histories, narratives, factors, threat amplifiers and vectors (for example inequalities, livelihoods, governance, education, displacement, trauma, grievance, heritages, memory and so on) and how these are layered and play out across time and in different contexts
  • develop creative or innovative intervention opportunities, for example using participatory arts, inclusive education, cultural or heritage assets to interrupt cycles of conflict, violence and extremism and build community resilience in contexts of conflict and fragility
  • learn from the past (including the memories and heritages from past events) and from indigenous and local skills and knowledge, to inform peace and trust building in the future and improve the ways (and languages) in which knowledge and learning is shared, communicated and represented.

Respecting human rights and addressing marginalisation

Proposals under this heading could address any issues around the UN resolution’s recognition that sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, and around the importance of trust building in fragile contexts.

Proposals could also address related UN SDG 16 targets, for example:

  • ensuring public access to information, protecting fundamental freedoms
  • ensure equal access to justice for all
  • end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

Proposals could also investigate ways to:

  • address complex drivers and consequences of inequalities, marginalisation, extreme poverty and vulnerabilities for at risk groups in contexts of conflict and fragility, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • improve understanding of the ways that marginalised or vulnerable groups experience, and respond to, multi-dimensional risks that occur cumulatively and simultaneously, stacking up the odds against their ability to adapt and respond
  • enhance measures for the protection of human rights (including rights of specific groups such as indigenous communities or persons with disabilities), safeguarding at risk groups, and for resilience building amongst affected or vulnerable communities in humanitarian, conflict or fragile contexts
  • improve access to justice or address the legacies of past injustices, including the role of transitional justice and other methods for addressing difficult and contested pasts as a part of peacebuilding and conflict prevention or intersections with wider issues such as climate justice and intergenerational equity
  • mobilise closer understanding of traditional, indigenous, marginalised or hidden knowledge, experience or cultural and heritage assets as mechanisms for conflict resolution and justice.

Trust, engagement, ethics and protection

Proposals under this heading could address any issues around the UN resolution’s recognitions that:

  • peace and trust entail accepting differences and having the ability to listen to, recognise, respect and appreciate others, as well as living in a peaceful and united way
  • peace not only is the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.

Proposals could also address related UN SDG 16 targets, for example to develop “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”.

Networking proposals could also focus on the implications for the ways research is conducted as outlined under the cross-cutting considerations in this highlight notice, for example on issues around ethical, decolonial and trusted research and the ways that research can support civic dialogue and inclusive engagement.

Proposals could also investigate ways to:

  • mobilise local cultural and community assets, human capital and change agents (for example youth, women, social movements, cultural groups, community or arts activism) to address interconnected drivers and risks
  • build trust or counter mistrust, stigma or discrimination, and build ‘safe’ spaces for civic dialogue and discourse or to engage with plural voices and experiences
  • address risks or opportunities created by digital or other technologies (for example, online harm, abuse, extremism or cybersecurity) and associated cultural and communication practices, in contexts of conflict and fragility
  • address past injustices and contested or controversial heritages, overcome inequalities in power or issues of language and cross-cultural or intergenerational communication, uncover hidden voices or experience and develop decolonial approaches.

The above are intended as illustrative examples of the types of research issues which could fall in scope of the highlight notice rather than an exhaustive list.

Other proposals seeking to advance the impact of arts and humanities research (including interdisciplinary research with a significant arts and humanities component) in addressing other issues within the scope of the 2021 UN International Year of Peace and Trust and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ will be welcomed.

In addition to the creation of new networks, activities connected to existing networks can also be considered where they would add significant value, for example by:

  • exploring new research areas or agenda
  • by significantly extending participation and engagement to new research or partner communities
  • by innovating or experimenting in new approaches.

Whether seeking funding to create a new network or build on existing collaborations, you must justify the chosen approach and explain the innovation and added value of bringing the network participants together.

Cross-cutting considerations

Funded proposals will be expected to have in place arrangements to conduct full conflict sensitivity and risk analysis, safeguarding and ethical reviews before starting and consider how ongoing attention will be given to these issues. This includes other intersecting risks in contexts of:

  • extreme poverty
  • humanitarian protection
  • inequalities
  • highly contested civic dialogue and vulnerabilities.

Proposals should demonstrate awareness of the challenges involved in conducting ‘trusted research’ which ‘does no harm’ in conflict, fragile and humanitarian contexts and that they have access to the expertise necessary to address these issues, including expertise in (and between) relevant local jurisdictions and cultural contexts.

Issues around ethics and methods of working would normally be expected to be a topic for discussion within networks and could themselves be the research focus of the network.

We encourage applications that build in self reflexivity, decolonial approaches and awareness of risks of unintended consequences or explore ways to address past injustices and conflict heritages and legacies.

We will welcome proposals that seek to use innovative, creative, safe and ethical methods for working appropriately with different groups such as:

  • survivors or perpetrators of violence
  • vulnerable groups
  • marginalised, displaced or dispossessed communities
  • children, youths or persons with disabilities
  • those affected by trauma or whose physical or mental health has been affected by conflict or violence
  • those affected by human rights abuses, discrimination, stigma or lack of access to justice (amongst others)
  • any groups affected by the wider role of gender and intersecting inequalities.

This could involve developing inclusive methodologies of engagement with conflict- affected communities to support:

  • the co-design of culturally informed responses
  • social innovation
  • civic dialogue and engagement
  • community-driven action or activism.

Proposals should explain their approach towards equitable and ethical working with partners and communities across international, organisational and other boundaries, including for example:

  • issues of language
  • digital inclusion
  • differences in ethical and other research frameworks
  • differential access to resources
  • consideration of post award ethics and vulnerabilities
  • access to power and replication of power knowledge hierarchies.

Proposals should explain their approach to:

  • tackling gender, intersectionality and other inequalities
  • promoting inclusion and accessibility.

We encourage applicants to innovate and experiment in more environmentally sustainable ways of networking and working, for example:

  • testing more inclusive and accessible practice
  • exploring digital, remote and other ways of working (and how to address any exclusions or challenges these may create)
  • reducing the environmental footprint and waste from project activities (such as reducing non-essential international air travel).

Proposals should pay due attention to their pathways for dissemination or sharing of activities and outputs with approaches that are inclusive in design and accessible equitably to all those who will engage with this research. This includes, where appropriate publication of outputs in multiple languages or accessible formats.

We welcome proposals led by early career researchers (with mentoring or advisory support, where appropriate). There is an expectation that attention will be paid to potential capability building opportunities offered by networks and that early career researchers will be included within proposed networking activities where appropriate.

We welcome proposals which consider the intersections between peace, human rights and trust and the other 15 UN Sustainable Development Goals which explore the multidimensional nature of conflict and fragility (as outlined in the 2020 OECD States of Fragility report).

Funding available

You can apply for up to £60,000, at full economic cost. We will fund:

  • 80% of the full economic cost for UK researchers.
  • 100% full economic cost for some international costs.

Unlike AHRC’s standard research networking scheme, there is no ‘additional allowance’ for international costs as it is expected that international costs will be integrated within the higher overall funding limit of £60,000 for applications to this highlight notice.

The grant will cover:

  • the salary costs for UK principal and co-investigators for the time spent overseeing and providing intellectual input to the activities
  • the cost of setting up and coordinating the activities, along with related indirect and estates costs (UK researchers only)
  • costs of international co-investigators (up to 50% of the total value of the award) and international collaborators incurred in supporting the networking activities and in supporting equitable partnerships and inclusive participation in network activities
  • costs for a wide range of networking activities including workshops, seminars, online, web-based and digital communication activities
  • international partnership development activities such as scoping, agenda setting, co-design, community or stakeholder engagement, piloting and innovating, and testing new methods of collaborative working
  • costs linked to dissemination and impact arising from network research activities.

We expect to fund around 20 networking awards through this highlight notice. We intend to bring together the cohort of research networks supported to share insights, progress, findings and impacts, and may invite funded networks to contribute to future relevant agenda setting activities.

Awards can be for a period of up to two years and are expected to start on 1 February 2022.


Applications that do not fit under this highlight notice can continue to be submitted to the responsive mode ‘AHRC research networking scheme’ as usual.

Resubmissions of proposals to previous AHRC opportunities on relevant conflict or peacebuilding themes, such as previous ‘partnership development awards’ opportunities, and which were recommended for funding or given fundable grades may be considered under this highlight notice.

However, any resubmissions would need to be amended to fit within the funding limits, scope and remit of the AHRC research networking scheme and this highlight notice.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

We recommend you start your application early, you can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: AHRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: research networking
  • call/type/mode: Research Networking Highlight Notice UN International Year of Peace and Trust 19 October 2021.

Please read the AHRC research funding guide (pages 22-26) for further details and help in applying.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by emailing

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.


As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents outlined below must be submitted, unless it is indicated they are optional. General guidance on attachments is provided in AHRC’s research funding guide. Any guidance specific to this funding opportunity is provided below and takes precedence.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Case for support

Mandatory. Maximum of four pages.

You should use the following section headings:

  • rationale and research context
  • aims and objectives
  • timetable of activities
  • key participants
  • outputs, dissemination and impact.

The case for support attachment must outline clearly the rationale for the activities, approach and the research context by answering the following questions:

  • what is the central theme of the proposed activity? How does this relate to the themes in the highlight notice call?
  • why is it important that this theme is explored?
  • what is innovative about the network?
  • how will the questions be addressed?
  • how will international collaboration and shared learning add value to the proposed activities?
  • how will the proposed activities create genuine interaction across boundaries and advance understanding?
  • how will the network address questions of:
    • equitable partnership working
    • ethics
    • risk
    • equalities and inclusion
    • safeguarding
    • conflict sensitivities
    • other related issues?

You should also give details of:

  • the aims and objectives
  • the timetable for any proposed activities
  • proposed participants and key speakers
  • plans for management and coordination, including the membership of any proposed advisory group or steering committee.

Justification of resources

Mandatory. Maximum of two pages.

All costs must be justified in the justification of resources attachment.


Mandatory. Maximum of two pages.

List of publications

Mandatory. Maximum of one page.

Project partner letter of support

Mandatory only if you have named project partners on the proposal. Please see Section 4: Application Guidance page of the AHRC Research Funding Guide for further details of what constitutes a project partner.

Maximum of two pages on headed paper, signed and dated.

International co-investigator head of department statement

Mandatory only if an international co-investigator is on the proposal.

Maximum of two pages on headed pater, signed and dated.

Visual evidence

Optional. Maximum of one page.


Optional. Maximum of one page.

Budget breakdown

You must itemise all costs separately within the budget breakdown section of the application, and clearly indicate the costs of international collaboration.

For opportunities launched after 1 July 2021, UKRI are changing how international costs should be included in applications.

To enable UKRI to meet reporting requirements, all overseas costs incurred by non-UK organisations must be entered into the ‘other directly incurred costs’ using the following format.

In the description box you should enter ‘organisation, country, cost category, cost description’.

The cost categories for this are:

  • staff
  • other directly incurred costs
  • indirect costs
  • travel and subsistence
  • equipment.

For example:

  • ‘University of Nairobi, Kenya, Staff, 1 x PDRA’
  • ‘University of Nairobi, Kenya, travel and subsistence, 4 x flights’
  • ‘University of Nairobi, Kenya, other directly incurred costs, 5 x workshops including catering and accommodation’
  • ‘University of Nairobi, equipment, name of equipment’.

All costs incurred by the international co-investigator, including salary costs will need to be listed as ‘exceptions’ under the ‘other directly incurred costs’ heading and entered using the naming format detailed above. For example, ‘University of Nairobi, Kenya, staff, 1 x international co-investigator’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment criteria

Applications submitted to this highlight notice will be assessed according to standard research networking scheme criteria, but with additional criteria relating to the fit to the aims of this highlight notice.

Standard criteria

We will assess your application according to AHRC standard assessment criteria:

  • quality and importance
  • people
  • management
  • value for money
  • outputs
  • dissemination
  • impact.

We will also pay particular attention to:

  • the quality of the research process, including research agenda, participants, sustainability and whether research methods foster interactions
  • the level of genuine collaboration that’s proposed across boundaries, and the value that this will add to the development of research in that area
  • the significance and importance of the proposed research
  • how much the proposed activities will create genuine and productive interaction across boundaries (for example, disciplinary, conceptual, theoretical or methodological), including the potential to advance knowledge and understanding, or lead to new cross-disciplinary research projects
  • the level of involvement from different organisations and interaction between participants.

We welcome creative techniques for fostering interactions.

For more details, see the AHRC research funding guide.

Opportunity specific criteria

For applications under this highlight notice we will also consider the following:

  • fit to the aims and scope of the highlight notice, including the UN 2021 Year for Peace and Trust and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’
  • strength of the proposed international partnerships and collaborations and potential to:
    • promote international research cooperation and networking
    • encourage sharing best practices and experiences
    • support learning and knowledge exchange across cultural and national boundaries
  • alignment of proposed ways of working in relation to issues outlined in the highlight notice opportunity, such as:
    • equitable international partnerships
    • equalities, diversity and inclusion
    • involvement of early career researchers where appropriate
    • environmental sustainability
  • attention paid to and assurance provided on:
    • ethical issues
    • safeguarding of participants
    • risks
    • conflict sensitivity
    • inequalities in power
    • prevention of harm and related issues
    • other specific issues arising from conducting research in the contexts proposed.

Assessment process

Applications will be considered by a separate assessment panel drawn from AHRC’s Peer Review College, along with other peer reviewers and experts with expertise of relevance to the focus of this highlight notice.

The panel meeting will be held in December 2021.

Applications will be assessed directly at the panel meeting.

There will be no separate peer-review or principal investigator response stage for applications under this highlight notice.

Contact details

Ask a question about this opportunity


Use ‘Research networking highlight notice’ in the subject line.

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.


Telephone: 01793 444164

Additional info

Research networking scheme

Responding to the The UN International Year of Peace and Trust, 2021 AHRC is launching this highlight notice in its research networking scheme.

Research networks are intended to:

  • stimulate new debate and exchange of ideas between researchers and stakeholders
  • develop or extend research partnerships, collaborations and ways of working across organisational, disciplinary, national or other boundaries
  • support collaboration and inclusive engagement of wider communities in research agenda setting, co-design and critical reflection.

AHRC’s research networking scheme is intended to support sustained programmes of research networking activity across organisational and other boundaries. Therefore, networking awards are not intended to cover:

  • standalone events that are not part of a sustained research networking process
  • activities that would have taken place regardless (for instance, connected to an existing conference)
  • applications primarily for individual travel grants or one-off visits (although mobility activities can form a part of a wider programme of networking activities)
  • funding for PhD studentships (although the participation of early career researchers in networking activities is encouraged).


This highlight notice responds to and engages with ‘The UN International Year of Peace and Trust, 2021’ which was declared following the adoption of a resolution at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on 12 September 2019.

Recognising the importance of the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits humanity, in particular future generations, the resolution calls upon the international community to continue to promote peace and trust among nations as a value that promotes sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights as interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

The highlight notice also aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ which aims to:

  • promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development
  • provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.


Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AHRC recognises that the proposed programme of work may be subject to change.

We encourage proposals to consider how they might be flexible and innovative in delivery, should regulations change, when the time comes to implement activities.

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