Our understanding of the term 'peace' has evolved significantly over the last 2,500 years

 Introduced into academic literature by the Norwegian pioneer of peace research Johan Galtung, who distinguished two types of peace:

Negative peace

defined by the absence of war and violence

- does not capture a society’s tendencies towards stability and harmony

Positive peace

defined by a more lasting peace that is built on sustainable investments in economic development and institutions as well as societal attitudes that foster peace.

- can be used to gauge the resilience of a society, or its ability to absorb shocks without falling or relapsing into conflict

Positive Peace opposes what is known as the 'structures and cultures of violence'. These structures and cultures can cause people to behave violently, or impose violence on others.

This definition has since increased in popularity, and is now widely used by academics and politicians alike. But in order to fully understand the idea of Positive Peace and its implementation, we need to understand the history of Positive Peace.

Our understanding of the term 'peace' has evolved significantly over the last 2,500 years, and its long historical pedigree is explored here through this website.

Instead of looking at the causes of war, we can explore the attitudes, institutions and structures that build a more peaceful world, and strive to create these conditions in all areas.

Most cultures explore the concept of peace:

  • Shanti (Indian; to maintain a tranquil mindset even in suffering or conflict)

  • Heiwa (Japanese; aligning oneself to the common good/social order)

  • Shalom (Hebrew; right relationships or unity and prosperity, a sense of wholeness arising out of justice)

  • Ubuntu (Zulu; self-assurance through linked humanity, one part of a whole)

Through these several dimensions of positive peace emerge:

  • Systemic and complex

  • Virtuous or vicious

  • Preventative

  • Underpins resilience and nonviolence

  • Informal and formal

  • Supports development goals