In its first phase, in the 1960s, peace research was concerned primarily with the formulation of theories regarding strategic disarmament and security politics, and introduced the criticism of the international threat and deterrent system. This criticism met with little response even from the critical public, and was given virtually no practical support from any section of any democratic society. Also without consequence in this early phase were peace researchers' suggestions about conflict regulation. Presently, researchers are looking at armament complexes as parts of larger social structures. There is also a negative concept interpreted as the absence of personal violence, and a positive concept of peace, to be interpreted as social justice: equal distribution of power and resources as well as absence of structural violence.
Peace research as a branch of political science has gained ground because the growing variety and number of conflicts could not be analyzed in a sufficient way - in contrast with former expectations.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.