The question of linking human rights and peacebuilding has been on the academic, policy and practitioner agenda for a considerable time after initially coming to the fore in the 1990s. In recent years, it has gained further impetus following recognition in multiple policy documents that human rights, peace and development are closely related, and that practical efforts should build on such linkages. A certain blurring of boundaries between these domains in practice can indeed be observed. Yet experiences to date indicate that linking human rights and peacebuilding effectively is often easier said than done, in part because endeavours in the two realms can both complement and contradict one another. Serving as the introduction to a Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights Practice on human rights and peacebuilding, this article discusses such developments. It outlines the broader context in which the discussion on human rights and peacebuilding takes place and the importance of engaging with discourses and policies related to statebuilding and development assistance. These shape the conceptualization and implementation of human rights and peacebuilding separately and in relation to one another, both globally and in specific country settings. To date they have seldom been explicitly considered in relation to the human rights/peacebuilding interface. The article further clarifies the use of the key concepts and discusses three implications of the close relationship between human rights violations and violent conflict, thereby setting the stage for a collection of articles and policy and practice notes on the relationship between human rights and peacebuilding.