Skip to main content



Subinternational peace plans

International peace systems

World peace systems

Peace movements


Social science has uncovered more knowledge about war than about peace, just as psychology probably has yielded more insights into negative deviance (such as mental illness) than into positive deviance (such as creativity). Unfortunately, studies tend to be focused on wars as units of analysis rather than on periods of peace, and there is a tendency to define peace simply as “nonwar.” Thus, peace thinking has had a tendency to become Utopian and to be oriented toward the future; it has been speculative and value contaminated rather than analytical and empirical. It is conceivable that this might change if research were to be focused more on peace than on war.

Two concepts of peace should be distinguished:negative peace, defined as the absence of organized violence between such major human groups as nations, but also between racial and ethnic groups because of the magnitude that can be reached by internal wars; and positive peace, defined as a pattern of cooperation and integration between major human groups. Absence of violence should not be confused with absence of conflict: violence may occur without conflict, and conflict may be solved by means of nonviolent mechanisms. The distinction between these two types of peace gives rise to a fourfold classification of relations between two nations: war, which is organized group violence; negative peace, where there is no violence but no other form of interaction either and where the best characterization is “peaceful coexistence”;positive peace, where there is some cooperation interspersed with occasional outbreaks of violence; and unqualified peace, where absence of violence is combined with a pattern of cooperation.

The conception of peace as “nonwar” is neither theoretically nor practically interesting: as used, for instance, in describing the relationship that obtains between Norway and Nepal, it can often be explained in terms of a low level of interaction resulting from geographical distance and thus will hardly be identified by many as an ideal relation worth striving for. For peace, like health, has both cognitive and evaluative components: it designates a state of a system of nations, but this state is so highly valued that institutions are built around it to protect and promote it. It is the concept of positive peace that is worth exploring, especially since negative peace is a conditio sine qua non and the two concepts of peace may be empirically related even though they are logically independent.

In the absence of what one might call solid empirical research and a coherent peace theory, the concept of peace can best be explicated by means of an examination of peace thinking. Just as there has been no lack of attention paid to war (Sorokin 1937-1941; Wright 1942; Richardson 1960a), so there is no scarcity of peace plans (Wynner & Lloyd 1944; Hemleben 1943; Doob I960; Hinsley 1963; Murty & Bouquet 1960), and an extensive typology would be needed to do full justice to most of the latter. The approach here will be to present the outlines of such a typology, and to bring the insights and knowledge of social science to bear upon some of these ideas. For peace is a problem of social organization, and the theory of peace and war will someday be subsumed under the general theory of social organization.

A typology of peace plans . A major axis for the classification of any peace plan is the level of organization that it singles out for reform. The problem of peace, in the mind of a person proposing something, can be located at any of five levels: the level of the isolated individual; the level of human groups; the level of human societies or nations; the level of the international system of nations; and the emerging level of a world state. For simplicity, the first three can be collapsed, leaving only three levels of peace plans: the subinternational, the international, and the level of the world state.

Of these three major types of peace plans, the first is not oriented toward the international system at all, whereas the other two are, but in very different ways. Plans that focus on the international system seek to preserve the essential characteristics of the present system of nation-states while organizing it in such a way that it will be stabilized at some level of interaction that can be characterized as “peaceful.” Those who seek a world state take for granted that some kind of integration is a necessary condition and ask how this integration can be stabilized in favor of peace. Obviously, the world-state approach is oriented toward both positive and negative peace, whereas the focus on the international system asks less of the system in terms of positive peace as long as only negative peace is obtained.

Within each class of models there are a number of more specific ideas; we shall mention some of particular importance. All of them take their point of departure from one specific variable used to characterize the system, and the model is identified with one particular value of that variable.

Subinternational peace plans

There are several well-known approaches at the subinternational level, and although they play a minor role in contemporary thinking about peace, they should be mentioned because of their prevalence. The basic idea of intrahuman approaches to peace is that intergroup, and also interhuman, conflicts are nonrealistic conflicts (Coser 1956) and, more particularly, projections of intrahuman conflicts. Hence, if man could be freed from more of his inner conflicts, he would behave in a less aggressive manner at the international level. Past generations’ techniques of freeing individuals from internal conflicts depended on religious conversion, whereas in contemporary societies psychotherapy is more frequently called for—if not for the whole population, at least for its leaders, and if not for its present leaders, at least as a screening device for future leaders (Klineberg 1964).

Interhuman approaches to peace emphasize the idea of projection of interhuman rivalry onto higher levels of human organization and, more positively, the idea that training in peaceful conflict resolution at lower levels may be transferred to higher levels, including the international level. Life in the family, at school, at work, or in associations may be seen as possible training grounds, particularly for those who are to become world leaders.

Likewise, intrasocietal approaches to peace emphasize the idea of projection: societies that are especially conflict-ridden will use external aggression as a means to force internal cohesion. This approach also includes the idea that some political systems are more peace-loving than others; more particularly, great importance is given to a fair distribution of the wealth of a nation to its inhabitants.

The major objection to these subinternational approaches is, of course, that there is a confusion of levels of analysis. Wars between nations take place at the international level; this level is sui generis and requires analyses and reforms at that level. Lower levels may be of some importance, but their impact is likely to suffer a quick decrease as one moves into the foreign offices and other centers of international policy decision making. This is not to deny the possible importance of screening applicants for key positions in the international system in order to prevent an accumulation of frustration that may be converted into aggression among important decision makers. This proposal assumes that clinical psychology is further advanced in diagnosis and prognosis than in the cure of the mental deviant. And it is probably also true that the best training ground for desired types of behavior is in real-life situations that approximate the kind of situations in which decision makers work.

As for the intrasocietal approach, a study by Michael Haas (1965) shows that it has so far failed to produce very significant correlations between intrasocietal structure and external behavior. There is some evidence that democratic societies are less belligerent and also that more developed societies are more belligerent. The latter is confirmed by a study from the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, based on Quincy Wright’s data (Broch & Galtung 1966). Moreover, there is nothing that seems to confirm the widely held idea that a major increase in the standard of living of the world population or a fairer distribution of the fruits of man’s labor would contribute significantly to a more peaceful world. A better distribution may solve internal problems but at the same time free resources for external aggression.

International peace systems

Various suggestions for international peace plans are both theoretically and practically more promising than those that focus on the subinternational level.

Based on distribution of power

Most peace thinking has centered on the problem of how power shall best be distributed among the nations of the world. Theories relating to this are usually marred by the neglect of other kinds of power than coercive power; influence potential in its most general sense is rarely considered. If we stick to this tradition of studying the distribution of military power, there are four major models of peace.

The first model is that of minimum equality,which is based on the theory that the international system is best served by making power the monopoly of one nation or system, just as it is monopolized by some statuses in the intranational system. Examples are the Pax Romana, Pax Ecclesiae, andPax Britannica—and the contemporary efforts to establish a Pax Americana or a Pax Sovietica before the stalemate was crystallized in the idea of a system of peaceful coexistence.

The second model focuses on maximum equality,or what is usually referred to as a “balance of power” (Kaplan 1957), in the sense that no nation or alliance is strong enough to defeat another nation or alliance. A modern version is the “balance of terror,” in which a nation may defeat other nations, but only at the risk of being completely destroyed itself. War becomes impossible under the balance of mutual destruction of a Pax Atomica: the risks are too great.

A third model views military powers as stabilized at a low level; this refers to all kinds of armscontrol efforts, especially those that have taken place from the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 to the present day, including contemporary thinking that aims at subtracting from a Hobbesianhelium omnium contra omnes both some means of violence and some objects of violence. The idea is to rule out general and complete war.

Finally, there is the model that views power asstabilized at a zero level; this refers to the general (all nations) and complete (all weapons) disarmament advocated by pacifists. Pacifism asserts that this state may be obtained unilaterally by the effect of example, because weapons become meaningless when they do not encounter similar weapons, and by the refusal of soldiers to use arms, as well as by governmental decisions.

Where the model of minimum equality is concerned, there might perhaps be agreement among nations about the appointment of a police nation in the world but not about its consequences—i.e., that coercive power usually will be accompanied by other kinds of influence. The police nation, it may be feared, will abuse its power and impose its value system and sociopolitical system on other nations. This would be acceptable if there were a general value consensus, in which case the system would be close to one of the many world peace systems described below.

The major difficulty in the model of maximum equality seems to be that the system, although in momentary equilibrium, is not in stable equilibrium. It is based on the relative evaluation of two power potentials, and since military power is manydimensional (because it consists of many weapons systems), this evaluation may be far from consensual. There will always be room for the idea that one’s own power is not sufficiently developed. Thus, the basis is laid for arms races, and it is difficult to see any good theoretical justification for the thesis that there will be points of stability—for instance, that major technical breakthroughs will not occur (Richardson 1960a; Galtung 1964a). The need for sufficient retaliatory power after an enemy’s first strike also makes the terror balance unstable. Overkill capacity in peace is no argument against a continued arms race; what matters is what is left after the first strike.

One major difficulty in the model that focuses on arms control is the arbitrariness of all border lines between permissible and illegitimate weapons. For such border lines to be consensually accepted, they must be protected by some kind of discontinuity (Schelling 1960), such as the clear line that existed between conventional and nuclear weapons before the overlap in destructive power became too conspicuous with the introduction of the variety of tactical atomic weapons. Thus, such agreements are likely to be highly technical, difficult to understand, easy to evade, and difficult to supervise.

Where the model of general and complete disarmament is concerned, one major objection is its failure to consider the need for countervailing power. One evader of an agreement may dominate the total system if he has an absolute weapon at his disposal. For this reason, general and complete disarmament can preserve peace only if the distribution of power in the system accords with the minimum-equality model (or with one of the world peace systems, discussed below), or if provision is made in the system for the effective use of nonmilitary forms of power (economic sanctions, nonmilitary defense systems, etc.) against those who evade disarmament agreements. It should be emphasized, however, that there is no reason to believe that weapons, once they exist, will have to be used. Any city has in its hardware stores and its pharmacies more than enough weapons and poisons to provide for overkill capacity, and this weaponry is usually not very well protected. Nevertheless, it is not usually abused, and the reasons for this may also become operative at the international level.

Based on organization of conflicts

The second general type of international peace plan focuses on the organization of conflicts. The basic model here is the crisscross model, which is based on the idea that a system is strengthened, not weakened, the more conflicts it harbors, provided all these conflicts do not divide the units the same way. If two nations are allies in one conflict (for instance, between East and West, in the language of the cold war), they may nevertheless be antagonists in another conflict (for instance, between rich and poor nations), and this subjects them to cross pressures. The effects of cross pressures are a tendency toward withdrawal and neutrality, or nonalignment; the development of multiple loyalties that prevent complete identification and involvement in any conflict; and a tendency to serve as a channel of communication between the groups that are not exposed to cross pressure.

A major weakness of this theory is that one conflict will probably be defined as more salient than the other, so that the crisscross effect will be reduced. Another weakness is that if both conflicts are concerned with struggle for rank (for instance, political and economic rank), then nations that are high on one and low on the other will be in “rank disequilibrium” and will probably feed much aggressiveness into the system (Galtung 1964b).

Based on individual loyalty conflicts

Whereas, according to the crisscross model, peace is obtained when nations are caught in cross pressures, other peace models imply that the violence potential of nations is reduced when divided loyalties are induced in individuals. One such plan seeks to manipulate multiple national loyalties: the idea is to impede conflict polarization by institutionalizing, preferably across potential conflict border lines, secondary and primary relations between individuals from different nations. In practice, the suggestions are many: for example, mixed marriages, exchanges of all kinds (children, youths, students, professionals, politicians), and increased knowledge and empathy.

A second plan seeks to build crosscutting organizational loyalties. The division of the world into about 130 nations and territories provides, roughly, an exhaustive and mutually exclusive division of mankind. But it is also divided into nearly two thousand international organizations, which provide many individuals with other focuses of identification, although this division is far from exhaustive (and not exclusive either). With increased communication, geographical distance decreases in importance; thus, organizational identification may gradually gain in importance relative to national identification and eventually provide a multiple loyalty that would make it difficult to organize individuals in wars against their peers.

Probably the only major objection to the idea of multiple national loyalties is that it may be of relatively low significance, given the conformity of most people to the calls of their national leaders. However, the idea of crosscutting organizational loyalties raises some important theoretical issues. An organization is built around values but may span a wide spectrum of geography—possibly the whole world. Conversely, a nation is built around a territory, usually based on geographical contiguity, but may span a wide spectrum of value orientations if it is of the pluralist variety. However, there is also the classical idea of the nation-state, which is both homogeneous in values and contiguous in territory and in which the inhabitants are protected against violent internal ideological conflicts because of cultural homogeneity. (Belgium and India provide examples of what may happen when this condition does not obtain.) This internal homogeneity is bought at the expense of heterogeneity between nations, which means that complete identification with the nation-state yields a tremendous conflict potential. And this is also the case with complete identification with the organization, as long as geographical proximity means something. People seem to want others to share their values, and in a world divided into organizations they would not be protected against the proselytizing efforts of rival organizations by the walls set up by the nation-state. Hence, where identification is concerned, the most peaceful world is probably found at an intermediate point, with most people sharing their loyalty equally between the two focuses or some identifying with the national focus and some with the organizational.

Based on degree of homology

Homology between nations—the extent to which they are similar in social and political structure, so that each institution and status in nation A has its “opposite number” in nation B—has been singled out as a factor of importance. There are two models of peace based on this concept. In the models ofminimum homology nations are as different as possible, in the sense that they have different value structures; thus, they will not compete for the same scarce values but can establish a very specific pattern of interdependence—a kind of symbiosis based on complementarity. On the other hand, where maximum homology prevails, nations are as similar as possible in social structure and value structure, thus facilitating diffuse interaction and creating a value consensus. It is argued that the more similar nations are in terms of their culture (including language), the lower is the probability of misunderstanding. The theoretical basis is the thesis of “value homophily”—i.e., that similarity tends to produce liking and interaction.

Again, it is difficult to see that there is any guarantee for peace in any of these theories. In particular, there is no basis for equating value consensus with absence of conflicts: value consensus means that the same objects are valued positively, and if the objects are scarce, the probability of conflicts is higher, not lower. Misunderstandings may cause conflicts, and they may also conceal them. And where minimum homology is concerned, as between the European powers and the political systems found in Africa and America at the time they were opened up to European penetration, it seems quite likely that one nation will prevail over the other—militarily or culturally—and unlikely that the symbiosis will be stable. But again there may be a curvilinear relationship at work: it may be that at a very high level of mutual penetration, values are shared to the extent that a basis for cooperation in pursuing the same goals, such as high productivity or happiness, may be present. To the extent that this is the case, it means that on the path to maximum homology there is a danger zone to pass, where the pursuit of goals has still not been coordinated and the goals are both consensual and scarce.

Based on international stratification

We may assume that international stratification—that is, the ranking of nations as high or low on such rank dimensions as size, population, power, natural resources, income per capita, cultural level, social level, and urbanization—is multidimensional and that there is a tendency toward rank equilibrium,in the sense that nations tend to divide into those that are high and those that are low on most or many dimensions. The problem, as for systems of individuals, is how the interaction between nations is regulated; there seem to be two models that focus on regulating “class conflict” at the international level.

First, there is the feudal type of system, where there is a high level of interaction at the top and alow level at the bottom—that is, the international system is tied together at the top by trade, diplomacy, and all other kinds of exchange. Although there is very little interaction at the bottom, there may be some from top to bottom. This system is easily controlled by the wealthy nations; if there is a consensus among them, the system may achieve a stability similar to that of the caste system or of slave societies.

By contrast, in what may be called the modern system there is an equal level of interaction at the top and at the bottom: the “underdogs” unite in organizations that make it possible for them to countervail the influence of the “top dog” nations. Thus, one might envisage a kind of trade union of small nations that is able to strike against the big nations, organize embargoes to obtain better prices for raw materials, etc., and thus force upon the world a more equitable distribution of world output. Over time the importance of class lines may then decrease in the international system.

Again, there are many objections to these models. Most people today would probably object to the feudal system on a purely ideological basis. There is also the important difference between intranational and international levels of organization: the upper class in a national society is often marked by solidarity in its relationship to the lower classes, whereas upper-class nations in the international system have a higher tendency to fight among themselves (which is just one more expression of the lack of value and system integration at the international level). Thus, the international system tends to be divided into subsystems, each of which consists of one big power and its satellites, with a feudal structure both within and between these subsystems.

The modern system seems more promising, but that may only be because it has never really been tried. One objection is that it lends itself readily to international class warfare of poor and small nations against rich and big nations. A likely variant is that one big power will try to win over as many as possible of the satellites of the other big powers and become the leader of these satellites in such class warfare. Another objection is that the modern system will probably have less rank equilibrium, that is, there will be more nations that can be ranked high on one dimension of the international stratification system and low on one or more of the others. This will increase the potential for international aggression.

The latter objection, at least, seems consistent with current developments: the “revolution of rising expectations” that is taking place has lifted some lower-class nations over temporary disequilibria, such as being rich but not powerful, toward new positions of equilibrium at a higher level, such as being both rich and powerful after capital has been converted into weapons and weapons into territorial gains. Thus, as in the case of models based on degree of homology, there is probably a curvilinear relationship at work between the system elements, which could mean that the period ahead will be a particularly difficult one.

Based on degree of interdependence

Some models of peace are based on interdependence between nations. Interdependence, or interaction where some kind of positive value is exchanged between the parties to the interaction, may vary in frequency (how often), volume (how much is transferred), and scope (variety of value exchanged). Trade between two nations is a good example of how all three can vary independently. There are two principal models based on this concept. The model of minimum interdependence envisages a world where each nation is autonomous and self-sufficient and no nation intervenes or interferes in the affairs of any other nation; this is a clear case of negative peace, where positive peace is explicitly ruled out (Burton 1965). On the other hand, in the model of maximum interdependence all pairs of nations have maximum interaction in terms of frequency, volume, and scope. The idea is that all pairs of nations would be protected from rupture and violent conflict by the web of affiliations spun between them; positive interaction with other nations would be built into each nation in such a way that wars would be too costly. Thus, all nations should enjoy relations somewhat like those between Norway and Sweden.

A major difficulty with these two models lies in their failure to deal with the essential characteristics of violence. Violence in interindividual relationships seems to be at a maximum under the conditions of either maximum or minimum scope of interaction. In the case of maximum interaction, which sociologists would refer to as “diffuse interaction,” conflicts may lead to extreme patterns of violence, as seen in civil wars or in enmity between former friends (Coser 1956). In the case of no interdependence, empathy serves less as a protection against application of extreme violence. In general, most violent conflicts are both preceded and accompanied by polarization of attitudes (Coleman 1957); in this case polarization is already built into the system. Thus, we are probably justified in assuming a U-shaped relationship betweenscope and intensity of conflicts, which would mean that precisely the two values singled out in these two models—that is, the values of minimum and maximum interdependence—are the most dangerous ones.

The probability of conflict, however, may be highest when the interaction is specific—that is, limited in scope but not down to zero—but in that case conflicts are most likely to be regulated by contract and rational calculation, so that they will be less intense. With very diffuse interaction between nations, conflicts along one dimension of interaction may be dampened by the other dimensions, but they may also be reinforced and escalated; moreover, even if this is improbable, the disutility of open conflict is high. This does not mean that there does not exist a level of interdependence so high that the probability of all-out conflicts is almost zero, but on its path toward that point the international system will have to pass through dangerous zones of nonzero probability and high intensity of conflict. Moreover, statistics on wars show that they are highly correlated with the degree of interdependence between nations (Wright 1942); only rarely are wars directed toward complete strangers. Finally, it should be emphasized that much of what is called “economic development” is an effort to obtain self-sufficiency and hence to reduce the need for interdependence.

Based on functional cooperation

Interaction or interdependence that implies only some kind of exchange should not be confused with functional cooperation, which implies that the parties together produce something they may then share. Coproduction is one form of functional cooperation, as when several nations combine resources in order to produce something really big, such as a supersonic commercial airplane or a gigantic development project. There is good reason to believe that, at the level of individuals, functional cooperation on equal terms is one of the factors most efficient in producing integration (Berelson & Steiner 1964, p. 513). This hypothesis of functional cooperation has often been put forward in connection with nations (by President Kennedy, for instance, in connection with the moon race). The idea, then, is that any specific cooperation provides training for more comprehensive cooperation.

World peace systems

All of the following models of world systems have in common a certain resemblance to a nationstate, usually one held to be successful by the person who puts forward the proposal. The idea is that since many nation-states have obtained reasonable security and equity for their inhabitants, there must be something in their structure that is worth copying at the world level. Proposals vary, but they all have in common the idea of a center of decision making with means at its disposal to obtain compliance from the constituent units. Of the many dimensions that can be used to describe such models only three will be discussed.

First, models of world systems can be described in terms of the type of unit on which the system is based. When the basic unit is the individual, the world system is conceived as a world state, with a very low level of autonomy for intermediate levels, such as the nation. With nations as units the world system becomes a confederation, with the nation as a political level interposed between the individual and the government. Congruence between the authority structures of nation and confederation may have a stabilizing effect on the system as a whole (Eckstein 1961).

The difference between these two models is rarely argued in terms of their relevance for peace. Rather, the world confederation is seen as an intermediate step in a more gradualist approach toward the world state or as a system with the built-in protection of some internal autonomy. Also, there is the idea that border lines should be preserved to some extent, precisely because they slow down cultural diffusion and influence and thus contribute to the preservation of sociocultural pluralism—which many fear might disappear in a world state because of the homogenizing effect of a strong nucleus of decision making. But cultural differences in a pluralist system may serve as focuses of conflicts or, at least, as focuses for prejudices and mild forms of discrimination. The costs of pluralism would therefore have to be calculated in terms of potential for conflict.

Models of world systems can also be described in terms of their scope and domain. By “scope” we refer to the variety of needs satisfied by the world system; and by “domain,” to how many receive need satisfaction from the system.

Classification in terms of these two system functions produces two basic models. The first rates high on scope but low on domain. It is the form taken by the regional federation, which gives much in terms of scope to its members but is exclusive in terms of membership; a leading example is the European Economic Community. The second model rates high on domain but low on scope. It is the form taken by the functionally specific organization, which sets no limits, at least in principle, to the number and type of people whose needs it may serve but is able to do this only because both the needs and the type of service provided are of a limited type; an example would be any specialized agency of the UN.

A true world system has to rate high on both of these dimensions because it cannot exclude any class of units, whether nations or individuals, if it wants to be universal, and it also has to offer a wide variety of goods and values if it is to be seen as a source of gratification. Thus, the two models just described must be seen as steps on the road toward a closer analogy with the nation-state (E. Haas 1964). The world system would rate high on domain and high on scope; it would be a true world state or federation, which excluded nobody and tried to satisfy a wide variety of needs that were formerly satisfied at subordinate levels (Deutsch 1966). No agreement exists on whether the regional or the functionally specific model bears more promise as a step toward this full-fledged world system. There is the pragmatic point of view that the regional model is needed as a training ground in systems that are low on scope, and the functionally specific model in systems that are low on domain. But there are also the arguments that the bigger the unit, in terms of number of members, the bigger will be the wars involving that unit and that regionalism is likely to unite upper-class nations (because they have the most interaction experience) and thus contribute to a feudal world pattern.

Nature of compliance systems

A political system is meaningless unless there is a relatively high degree of compliance with a high proportion of centrally decreed norms. According to Etzioni (1961), there are three basic types of compliance mechanisms: the normative, the contractual, and the coercive [SeeSocial Control, article onOrganizational Aspects]. This typology can usefully be applied here.

Normative compliance means simply that there is an internalized desire to comply; behavior that is institutionally necessary is internalized as a need disposition in the personal system. The many suggestions for a world system based on this type of compliance focus on two main ideas: creating loyalty to the central agency on the grounds that it provides many services; and creating loyalty on a more ideological basis by a suitable use of symbols, such as the idea of the brotherhood of all men. A basic idea here is the democratic idea that normative compliance is promoted by a pattern of representative and direct democracy on the world level; another idea is that of creating a “welfare world” after the model of the welfare state.

Contractual compliance, by contrast, is built into the institutional structure by making compliance pay, just as an employee is motivated to perform his tasks because he knows he will receive a salary. In the same way, it is argued, nations and individuals can be motivated to perform services for the international community, provided that the latter gives them something in return. They may or may not combine this with a subjective feeling of loyalty; what is essential is that they should perform according to a quid pro quo principle. The system is based on exchange, and disagreements can be resolved by mediation, arbitration, and adjudication, as well as by a suitable clearing system for the exchanges.

Coercive compliance is, of course, compliance based on the use or threat of force, especially against members defined as aggressors. At the international level the model is the deviance-detection-con vie tion-adjudieation-sanctioning scheme borrowed from the control systems of national societies. International peace based on coercive compliance is enforced by such institutions as those provided for in the UN Charter: observer corps, peace-keeping forces of different kinds, the World Court, and sanctions of all kinds built into a system of international law.

Particularly important is the search for sanctions, whether economic or diplomatic, that stop short of war (Galtung 1965). This is the legal approach to the problem of international conflict management; it presupposes a nucleus of global institutions and is inconceivable at the purely international level unless one nation takes upon itself the task of acting as a third party in the international system. The problems of the legal approach, which is essentially an effort to obtain predictability by codifying international behavior, can also be analyzed in terms of the three modes of compliance. Thus, for legal rules to be adhered to, normative compliance is not strictly necessary, but some element of internalization built around important symbols in the system is an important positive contribution. To obtain contractual compliance, legal rules must be equitable and reasonable; to coerce, they must be institutionalized by means of credible negative sanctions.

To be implemented, all of these ideas need a central agency, whether it takes the form of the concert of Europe, the League of Nations, the United Nations, or some other form. The central agency will have to do what is needed to build up a basis for all three types of compliance, whether it takes the form of information or propaganda and manipulation of symbols, the administration of services in such a way as to buy loyalty, provision of a clearinghouse of exchanges of all kinds in order to make interdependence under a central organization pay, or the administration of enforcement mechanisms. Crucial for all three types of compliance is the extent to which the central world agency is able to compete with other levels of organization, such as nations, which provide the same kind of basis for compliance but possibly also promote compliance with norms that conflict with those of the world government. It should also be pointed out that any political system will probably need all three types of compliance. Normative compliance alone may not be enough in the long run; the value of a “good conscience” will show a rapidly diminishing return. The right behavior must somehow be made to pay, and if the system runs out of resources for rewards, it may have to resort to force. But force without some basis in normative commitment is tantamount to terror, and terror is notoriously ineffective in the long run.

Peace movements

The tremendous disparity between the different approaches to peace that have been described may be interpreted as a sign of basic confusion in thinking on the topic. But it is more likely to be a reflection of the complexity of the problem itself. It may be that, in this respect, peace is somewhat like health: the phenomenon is extremely difficult to grasp as a whole, and one’s approach therefore tends to be determined by the kind of peace—or health—he is interested in obtaining. Clearly, there are good reasons for these differences of interest; in fact, a peace plan can be classified not only according to its content but also according to who put it forward. This may be a person or an organization, located either in the decision-making nucleus of the world system or in the center of a society or on the periphery of a society. If the last is the case, the proposal is likely to bear some of the imprints of marginality: an absolutist and moralistic, as opposed to a gradualist and pragmatic, approach; a tendency toward single-factor, as opposed to multiple-factor, thinking; and a tendency to confuse organizational levels, so that the training and capacity of the plan’s author are made to seem more important than the possible merits of the plan itself (Galtung 1966). Thus, psychologists will talk about personality and aggression, sociologists about conflict-inducing social structures, educators about the school as the pivotal element in peace building—and the result is the well-known collection of single-factor theories, around which one may construct an organization and rally together people who share the belief. Thus, almost all the theories referred to above have found their organizational expression.

On the other end are the decision makers in the center of society, who have a gradualist, pragmatic approach and employ multiple-factor thinking. In their effort not to confuse organizational levels their approach becomes so slow, so careful, and so withdrawn from the public eye, that the tension between center and periphery becomes high enough to produce impatience and conflict, leading to demonstrations, party formation, and other forms of protest. The result is the traditional dialogue between center and periphery. The periphery gradually becomes like the center as it gains in power and leaves a certain imprint on the total system; however, in turn, a new protest movement is created at the periphery. In other words, peace movements, like other social movements, follow the “church-sect” cycle. Since the periphery—the peace movement—is split into single-factor organizations, the world does not get a multiple-approach impact from the movement.

Historical development

The fact that there are around 1,500 groups working for disarmament and peace (International Peace/Disarmament Directory [1962] 1963) suggests, among other things, an enormous democratization of the struggle for peace; even though their total membership may be small, these organizations do provide open forums for expressions of public opinion. Such forums are relatively new. Although the organized peace movement can be said to have begun in the United States in 1815 (Angell 1935), it was not until 1843 that the first international peace congress was held (in London). The Nobel peace prize (instituted in 1897) also stimulated much interest in the problem of peace. The history of the award repays study. The Nobel Foundation Calendar of 19631964 (see Nobelstifteltsen, Stockholm, Prix Nobel)listed 59 prizes, of which 13 went to the United States, 8 to France, and 7 to Britain; thus, 3 countries took 46 per cent of the prizes, 12 other countries took 40 per cent, and the remaining 8 prizes went to institutions, such as the Red Cross. There is thus a Western bias in the geographical distribution of the Nobel prizes, and it is not surprising that the socialist countries have instituted their own prizes for peace, the best known being the Lenin prize.

The peace movement received a terrible shock when World War i proved how much stronger was attachment to the nation than adherence to internationalist and pacifist principles and how much stronger was the fear of the sanctions of one’s own government and compatriots than of the sanctions of fellow members of organizations. The resolutions passed at the Universal Peace Congress in Geneva in 1912 and at the congress of the Second Socialist International in Stuttgart in 1907 were strongly pacifist, but the weakness of the peace movement then is also its weakness today: loyalty to the peace movement is based on normative compliance alone, not on contractual or coercive compliance. In times of crises, only extremely idealistic or very peripherally located people are likely to remain faithful to their ideals. World War n provided the peace movement with a new abundance of examples of this fact. However, this does not mean that the peace movement has no impact. Indeed, it serves as an imperfect substitute for a foreign-policy national assembly, since public opinion probably has less influence on foreignpolicy than on domestic-policy decisions in many countries.

Peace research

Since the late 1950s and early 1960s there has been an intensification of the more academic study of peace and a drive toward profession alization of the peace movement (Galtung 1963). The Repertory on Disarmament and Peace Research Institutions lists close to one hundred institutions in twenty countries as being active in the field; and two scientific quarterlies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution (edited at the Center for Conflict Resolution, University of Michigan) and the Journal of Peace Research (edited at the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo), are devoted to research in this interdisciplinary field.

One major difficulty with peace research is the problem whether the future will be a continuous extrapolation of the past or qualitatively different. For instance, it can be argued that the model for the disarmament process currently under discussion—the model that presupposes balance and control —probably has few, if any, counterparts in the history of the past. Another set of models for peace preservation, namely, balance-of-power models and collective security systems, have shown very severe limitations in the past. But can one assume that if a structure has not appeared in the past, it is because it is not viable or that if a structure has failed in the past, it will also fail in the future? Or if one studied how city-states and nation-states have successfully reduced their armaments in the past (probably more through normative and contractual than through coercive compliance), could this be a guide to future action? Acceptance of this simple inductive approach might mean that peace research would become merely a scientific-sounding pretext for imposing the past on the future.

Johan Galtung

[Directly related are the entriesDisarmament; International Conflict Resolution; Pacifism; War, article onThe Study of War. Other relevant material may be found inConflict; Diplomacy; Foreign Policy; Systems Analysis, article onInternational Systems; and in the biography ofRichardson.]


Angell, Norman 1935 Peace Movements. Volume 12, pages 41-47 in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences.New York: Macmillan.

Berelson, Bernard; and Steiner, Gary A. 1964 Human Behavior: An Inventory of Scientific Findings.New York: Harcourt.

Broch, Tom; and Galtung, Johan 1966 Belligerence Among the Primitives: A Re-analysis of Quincy Wright’s Data. Journal of Peace Research 3:33-45.

Burton, John W. 1965 International Relations: A General Theory. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Coleman, James S. 1957 Community Conflict. A publication of the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University. Glencoe, 111.: Free Press.

Coser, Lewis A. 1956 The Functions of Social Conflict. Glencoe, III.: Free Press.

Deutsch, Karl W. 1966 Power and Communication in International Society. Pages 300-316 in Ciba Foundation, Conflict in Society. Edited by Anthony de Reuck and Julie Knight. London: Churchill.

Doob, Leonard W. 1960 Becoming More Civilized: A Psychological Exploration. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Eckstein, Harry 1961 A Theory of Stable Democracy. Center of International Studies, Research Monograph No. 10. Princeton Univ., Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Etzioni, Amitai 1961 A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organizations: On Power, Involvement, and Their Correlates. New York: Free Press.

Galtung, Johan 1963 International Programs of Behavioral Science Research in Human Survival. Pages 226-247 in Behavioral Science and Human Survival.Edited by Milton Schwebel. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science & Behavior Books.

Galtung, Johan 1964a Balance of Power and the Problem of Perception. Inquiry 7:277-294.

Galtung, Johan 1964b A Structural Theory of Aggression. Journal of Peace Research 1:95-119.

Galtung, Johan 1965 On the Meaning of Nonviolence. Journal of Peace Research 2:228-257.

Galtung, Johan 1966 Attitudes to Different Forms of Disarmament. Pages 210-238 in International Peace Research Association, Studies in Peace Research.Assen (Netherlands): Gorcum.

Haas, Ernst B. 1964 Beyond the Nation-state: Functionalism and International Organization. Stanford Univ. Press.

Haas, Michael 1965 Societal Approaches to the Study of War. Journal of Peace Research 2:307-323.

Hemleben, Sylvester J. 1943 Plans for World Peace Through Six Centuries. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Hinsley, Francis H. 1963 Power and the Pursuit of Peace: Theory and Practice in the History of Relations Between States. Cambridge Univ. Press.

International Peace /Disarmament Directory. 1—. 1962—. Yellow Springs, Ohio: Wilkie.

Kaplan, Morton A. 1957 System and Process in International Politics. New York: Wiley.

Klineberg, Otto 1964 The Human Dimension in International Relations. New York: Holt.

Murty, K. S.; and Bouquet, A. C. 1960 Studies in the Problems of Peace. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

Nobelstiftelsen, StockholmPrix Nobel. → Published since 1901.

Richardson, Lewis F. 1960a Arms and Insecurity: A Mathematical Study of the Causes and Origins of War. Edited by Nicolas Rashevsky and Ernesto Trucco. Pittsburgh: Boxwood; Chicago: Quadrangle.

Richardson, Lewis F. 1960b Statistics of Deadly Quarrels. Edited by Quincy Wright and C. C. Lienau. Pittsburgh: Boxwood.

Schelling, Thomas C. 1960 The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Sorokin, Pitirim A. (1937-1941) 1962 Social and Cul- tural Dynamics. 4 vols. Totowa, N.J.: Bedminster Press. → Volume 1: Fluctuation of Forms of Art.Volume 2: Fluctuation of Systems of Truth, Ethics, and Law. Volume 3: Fluctuation of Social Relationships, War, and Revolution. Volume 4: Basic Problems, Principles, and Methods.

Wright, Quincy (1942) 1965 A Study of War. 2d ed. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Wynner, Edith; and Lloyd, Georgia (1944) 1949 Searchlight on Peace Plans. New ed. New York: Dutton.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from



The peace concept has a long history both in the Western and Eastern intellectual traditions. While Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ideas regarding peace have expanded and changed over time, this is not so much the case in Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist thought.

Ancient and Early Christian West

For the ancient Hebrews, shalom signified a state of prosperity and well-being as well as security. The Greek word, eirēnē from which we get the word irenic, also denotes the contentment and fruitfulness that comes from concord and harmony. Order (tranquillitas ordinis ), quiet (quies ), and repose (otium ) inhere within the Latin word pax, which Romans sought and maintained as a higher good. Altars to peace were erected by both Greeks and Romans, and the Stoic view of the universe visualized an intrinsic natural harmony, which the virtuous endeavored to restore. In all of these ancient conceptualizations, there was a belief that an Eden-like time of peace had existed before war and disorder disrupted it. Peace, then, was understood mostly as a cessation of the chaos of the created disorder, including war. While it may have been the natural state of humankind at one time, in the early twenty-first century it is an idyll that can only be approximated by a good government that can ensure the security necessary for the achievement of concord and personal well-being.

The corresponding development of just-war ideas provided a program for realizing peace, or the restoration of order. Strict guidelines were erected in an attempt to prevent any behavior, especially by governments, that would be disruptive, unless it resulted in the ultimate acquisition of peace. While the earliest Christian writers eschewed war altogether, seeing it as contrary to the "way of love" taught by Christ, by the third century some Christians were fighting in Roman wars without compunction. Augustine of Hippo (354430) did much to establish the components of the just war that would affect subsequent attitudes toward war in the West; but he also more fully defined what peace meant in a Christian context. For this early church father, peace was largely a spiritual concept. In his famous City of God, as well as in other works, Augustine incorporated the earlier Greek, Roman, and Jewish elements and contended that peace is essentially a right relationship with God that, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, will advance love and concord among human beings. The earthly city is a fallen one and original sin will prevent temporal peace from being established fully; thus, only when Christ returns to judge humanity will true, lasting peace be possible. By removing true temporal peace from the realm of possibility, Augustine bequeathed to the European Middle Ages a concept that was relatively idealistic and millennialistic, even as he sought to mitigate the horrors of warfare with a rigorous just-war doctrine.

Western Middle Ages

The medieval period produced elaborations of Augustine's idea of peace within the context of crusade and feudal politics. The fall of Rome in the late fifth century led to the foundation of numerous bellicose Germanic kingdoms, which struggled to create a new basis for social and political order while adopting gradually much of the culture of antiquity, especially as the Germanic peoples converted to Christianity. The Western Church in the early Middle Ages required exacting penances for the shedding of blood, which were enhanced in early Carolingian laws (eighth century). In this context it was often difficult to distinguish between war and peace, and peace came to be viewed mostly in practical terms as simply a respite from fighting, sometimes even being depicted as the goddess of victory. The Peace of God (pax Dei ) movement around the turn of the first millennium attempted to regulate warfare through strict papal restrictions on times of fighting and types of weaponry used, violations of which could lead to excommunication or interdict. As feudal relationships came to provide a new negotiated basis for order and peace by the twelfth century, the emerging chivalric code incorporated just-war theory, and set as one of its objectives the perpetuation of order or peace. The inclusion of the Augustinian motivation of love as necessary in any just war helped to ensure that the Christian spiritual ideal regarding peace would remain the goal even if in practical terms it would always remain elusive. The Crusades became the ultimate expression of the just war in continental Europe, but the barbarous actions of the knights who journeyed to the Holy Land compromised the church's credibility in fostering peace, since plenary indulgences seemed to excuse all kinds of violence and manslaughter in this supposedly sacred cause. This situation also created the intellectual climate for the first real investigation of peace as an idea, coming as it did on the heels of charges of corruption against the clergy.

While there were new investigations of peace in continental Europesuch as Dante's (12651321) vision of a Christian emperor in Monarchia (c. 1315), who established a one-world government that would provide true peace and orderthe concept of peace itself underwent little change. Only in England during the Hundred Years' War (13371453) is there found a protracted military enterprise provoking extensive criticism of warfare as an institution and, subsequently, suggesting a more complicated notion of what peace itself means. By the 1380s, writers such as John Gower (1330?1408), Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 13421400), William Langland (c. 1330c. 1400), Thomas Hoccleve (1368 or 1369c. 1450), John Bromyard (d. c. 1390), John Lydgate (c. 1370c. 1450), and John Wyclif (c. 13301384) all were attacking the justifications for wars, and the insincerity behind the putative goal of restoring order and peace. A new typology of peace emerged from this crucible of war and critique that would remain the basis for understanding peace right up until the modern period. First, the original Augustinian idea of personal, spiritual peace remained, along with its association with mercy, love, and patience. But for the critics of war, it was no longer enough to expect spiritual renewal to end the killing on a one-to-one basis. Relying on personal forbearance did not seem to reduce incidence of war at all. The other, older view of peace as order, including its affiliatesquiet, rest, concord, and lawnow took on new resonance as writers excoriated the behavior of knights who supposedly followed a strict, peace-loving code of arms.

Two new elements of peace, however, which had been introduced by the early fifteenth century, proved to be more practical. First, Wyclif and the Lollards, who could easily be termed pacifists, emphasized the un-Christlikeness of war, and thus attempted to return to an early Christian ideal of peace as reflecting the image of Christ (imago Christi ), demonstrated through acts of love. Unlike the Augustinian concept, here, to live like Christ is to work to stop war and to promote peace, not just in one's spiritual journey, but in society at large. The idea is that Christ believed that peace was possible, and in fact the Gospels say the angels proclaimed peace at his birth. Regardless of whether a cause seems just or not, war is always wrong and it must be a matter of conscience for all Christians to oppose it. By undercutting just-war arguments as inimical to God's way of peace, the concept for the first time emerged from the cloak of impossibility and became an obligatory pursuit. Issuing from this was the related idea that peace offered many practical benefits, thereby stressing its pragmatic nature. Lydgate, Hoccleve, and works such as The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye (c. 1436) equated temporal peace with economic well-being, personal security, and the growth of learning. From the late fifteenth century the value of peace was located increasingly in the language of political economy with its complex associations to the public good, which war was less likely now seen to promote.

Renaissance and Reformation

Renaissance humanists, especially those in northern Europe who had spent time in England, took the peace imperative and fashioned it into an ethic based on a dedication to the public good, or commonwealth. Desiderius Erasmus (1466?1536), Thomas More (14781535), Juan Luis Vives (14921540), and John Colet (1466 or 14671519) all published works hostile to war, promoting all four meanings of peace elucidated above. Within the context of emerging nation-states in western Europe, Erasmus, in his Complaint of Peace (1517) and many other works, argued that spiritual peace, embodied in the virtuous Christian prince, would be the foundation of a true and lasting temporal peace. His somewhat Stoic view of the kinship of humanity emphasized the concordia aspect of pax, which would lead to a personal closeness to God, Christlike behavior, an absence of strife, and the practical rewards of greater happiness such as the promotion of learning and economic prosperity. While events tended to make humanist pacifists appear idealistic in their own day, their endeavors enshrined peace as an uncontested value and its advancement a virtuous pursuit.

The Protestant reformers, many of whom were also humanists, came to stress the obligations to pursue peace as well through their literal interpretation of the Bible, although they were less optimistic concerning the depraved nature of humankind. One group, however, the Anabaptists, took Christ's words literally when he said "blessed are the peacemakers," and their devotion to all forms of peace became one of their most distinctive characteristics. Not since the time of the early church had a Christian position been so unilaterally in favor of peace; and later groups, such as the Quakers, also came to adopt this position. For these "separatists" peace continued to be understood as both a spiritual condition and a way of life, in all of its practical applications leading to a harmonious and godly society.

The Modern West

The peace concept in the Western tradition from this point onward changed very little in meaning. In the modern period, however, a humanitarian ethos largely replaced the once Christian foundations for valuing peace, but the growing interdependency of nations also produced new concerns about the survival of human existence. By the eighteenth century, many intellectuals opposed the unreasonableness and barbarism of war, and as a result, construed peace as a rational pursuit by enlightened peoples. The philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804), in his Perpetual Peace (1795), argued that a world order built upon reason and prudence, which is basically enlightened self-interest, will produce a peaceful society, and bring with it all that is good. The nineteenth century witnessed few large-scale wars in Europe, leading some to believe that Kant's admonition had become a cultural reality. Attempts at balances of power up through the early twentieth century seemed to prove that the West had found the practical solution to the problem of war, and that temporal peace could be realized and perpetuated by sophisticated diplomacy and the careful and humane study of international politics. This rather hegemonic view of peace recalls the ideas of Aristotle and of later officials of the Roman Empire, both of whom believed that empirethat is, rule by a presumably superior civilizationwas best positioned to ensure peace. Peace took on the additional nuance then of a planned arrangement for cooperation among nations, even as its moral and practical elements remained prominent.

World War I, the rise of fascism, and the development of nuclear and atomic weapons, all in the twentieth century, left the West once again arguing for peace more from an ethical stance. Since diplomacy and international institutions devoted to peace (such as the United Nations) often fail to prevent wars, the survival of humanity may depend more on people recognizing the moral necessity for keeping peace. This outlook tends to reduce the peace idea to its most basic meaning as the guarantor of continued human existence, a good for which there is universal agreement and support across cultures.

By the early twenty-first century, especially in Western societies, the concept of peace was most often linked to notions of justice and fairness. The modern ethical paradigm for peace espoused by most pacifists assumes that only when economic and political inequities are minimized or eliminated can we provide a basis for real and lasting peace and the consequent guarantee of prolonged human existence. Many contemporary intellectuals, such as Peter Brock, Peter Calvocoressi, Martin Ceadel, Michael Howard, and Charles Chatfield, have explored creatively the implications of this connection and have tried to offer specific and practical means for achieving true justice and, successively, peace.

Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Traditions

The Arabic word salam, a cognate of the Hebrew shalom, means "making peace." For Muslims, one comes to a purest state of peace by submitting to the will of Allah (isalm ), and anyone who has accomplished this is a muslim. Salam is even one of the ninety-nine names of Allah in the Islamic religion. In the Koran, anyone doing the will of God and giving all to exalt his sacred name, including the making of holy war (jihad ), will receive the divine blessing of peace and eventually live with God in that perfect state. Peace also can become an earthly state, in that good Muslims desire temporal peace, not war, realizing that only through an Islamic polity, serving Allah faithfully, can people prosper and live in harmony with one another. Thus, in Islam, ultimate peace, both spiritual and temporal, harmonizes within a submission to the divine will.

In eastern intellectual traditions the spiritual and practical elements of peace have cohered much more intricately and consistently than they have in the west. The Chinese word for peace, heping, is comprised of two characters meaning harmony and level (or flat), which suggests equalizing and balancing. (This type of peace may be inherent in the famous Taoist cosmic principles of yin and yang, which when symmetrical restore order and oneness to the universe.) The Japanese cognate hewa means much the same.

In classical Sanskrit shanti is the word closest in meaning to peace, usually denoting tranquility, calm, bliss, eternal rest, and happiness, but usually in connection to destruction or death. The term is often synonymous with sandi (association, combination) and the opposite of vigraha (separation, isolation, hostility). Peace here is contrary to the "absence of isolation" (vigrahabhava ) or the "absence of strife or war" (yuddhabhava ). From earliest Hindu thought it became the goal of the individual to escape from the necessity of being reborn, which was accomplished through deep meditation and the avoidance of bad karma, thus bringing ultimate peace. Another Indian concept, ahimsa, which is found first in the sacred Upanishads (c. eighth century b.c.e.), means nonviolence to animals and humans, and is based on the assumption that harm to living creatures produces bad karma by endangering or killing the soul of another. All life is one, and any animal could contain the soul of a relative who has been reincarnated, and so harming it is wrong. Mahatma Gandhi's (18691948) pacifism owed a great deal to this tradition of peace. By the time caste distinctions separated the ancient Indians, and led to warfare and strife, the famous meditation known as the Bhagavad Gita found in the epic classic Indian poem, the Mahabharat offered another means for achieving ultimate peace. Krishna tells the warrior Arjuna that in honoring the conditions of caste/race he brings honor to himself, and since souls return to new bodies after the old ones die, death does not matter. But one must reject all greed and anger, and therefore one can, even in the midst of battle, have peace within. Peace is ultimately an inner state that will beget positive ramifications as well for society as a whole.

Buddhist ideas of peace derived from these early Hindu notions that asserted self-denial was the key to contentment and ultimate peace with the universe of which we are all a part spiritually. Also centered in the idea of ahimsa, Buddhists have believed that true peace and happiness come from the eradication of all desire, including the desire for permanence that creates conflict and division. Through meditative practices, selfish desire can be gradually eliminated until absolute peace, in this case, nirvana, is reached when our state of being ends. Part of this process entails the gradual shutting down of all sensory awareness and feeling, in what is known as sannavedayitanirodha. Since one does not stay in this state of contemplation permanently, this does not provide a lasting peace. Buddha believed that peace (shanti ), both internally and externally, can only be achieved truly when it becomes part of one's conception of the world and of those who live within it. Peace is conditional for Buddha as he taught that the insistence on any type of permanence led to inflexibility, and ultimately, to conflict. This recognition of "dependent arising" forms the path to enlightenment and brings freedom and peace within, but also peace without, since it allows for change and newness.


In summary, while the Eastern and Western intellectual traditions historically have construed peace differently, there are certain characteristics that appear to transcend culture and that are held in common, even if the emphasis varies. There persists a spiritual notion of peace that represents inner calm, wholeness, contentment, and selflessness. The internal condition tends to affect the external so that if individuals are not at peace with themselves, they are unlikely to engender temporal peace. On the contrary, they are more apt to participate in wars, since conflict among peoples usually comes from a dissatisfaction with the current state of being (or affairs) that needs redress, perhaps even violently. In most cultural traditions, peace is the natural state of the universe, and throughout history one of the most universal endeavors of humankind has been the quest to end strife and to restore a beneficial order and tranquility. In linking these various but complementary aspects of what it means to be at peace, peace scholar Gerald James Larson has concluded:

To be at peace with oneself is to accept what or who one is and to have stopped warring with oneself. To be at peace in community is to make an agreement to end hostility, to live together in harmony, accepting the presence of one another. To be at peace in the cosmos is to accept, largely on faith, that the universe is benign, a more or less fitting habitat for the sorts of beings and forces that dwell or operate within it. (Rouner, p. 138)

See also Buddhism ; Christianity ; International Order ; Islam ; War ; Yin and Yang .


Bainton, Roland H. Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation. New York: Abingdon Press, 1960.

Dyck, Harvey L., ed. The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. Includes many good essays, including Roy C. Amore's "Peace and Nonviolence in Buddhism," Klaus K. Klostermaier's "Himsā and Ahimsā Traditions in Hinduism," and Charles Chatfield's "Thinking about Peace in History."

Gallie, W. B. Philosophers of Peace and War: Kant, Clausewitz, Marx, Engels, and Tolstoy. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Johnson, James Turner. The Quest for Peace: Three Moral Traditions in Western Cultural History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Kalupahana, David J. The Buddha and the Concept of Peace. Sri Lanka: Vishva Lekha Publishers, 1999.

Kelsay, John, and James Turner Johnson, eds. Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions. New York: Greenwood, 1991.

Lowe, Ben. Imagining Peace: A History of Early English Pacifist Ideas, 13401560. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.

Rouner, Leroy S., ed. Celebrating Peace. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990. A number of excellent essays, including Sissela Bok's "Early Advocates of Lasting World Peace: Utopians or Realists?," Gerald James Larson's "The Rope of Violence and the Snake of Peace: Conflict and Harmony in Classical India," and Bhikhu Parekh's "Gandhi's Quest for a Nonviolent Political Philosophy."

Zampaglione, Gerardo. The Idea of Peace in Antiquity. Translated by Richard Dunn. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973.

Ben Lowe

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


Peace. Perhaps one of the most complex concepts in human history, peace has been used to refer to everything from “absence of war” to “equilibrium” to “a utopian state of spiritual and social harmony devoid of conflict.” These widely differing images are indicators of essential differences in ideology, culture, and perceptions of history. Understanding peace requires an acknowledgment of these different contexts as well as a willingness to explore those meanings with which we are less familiar.

Ironically, the most familiar images of peace are perhaps the least helpful, as they consist of stereotypical assumptions that do not invite further examination of a complex phenomenon. These highly idealistic images generally depict peace either as the condition that exists when wars are suspended or terminated, or, conversely, as a harmonious world devoid of conflict. At best, such images provide faint shadows of peace rather than illuminate its essence. More often than not, they serve to lessen any interest in peace as a desirable or achievable state, either by devaluing it (a simple interlude between wars) or by ascribing unattainable, utopian preconditions to it (a world in total harmony without conflict).

Shadows of Peace.

In the West, a common understanding of peace originates from the Latin pax, meaning “a pact or settlement to deter or end hostilities.” This meaning arises primarily in historical, political, and military contexts, which appear to be closely related. Given the fascination of Western historians with war, it is understandable that many continue to envision human history as a series of wars and respites from wars, and salient historical figures as warriors, military leaders, or heads of state who declare and prosecute wars against other states. Within this context, peace has come to be narrowly understood as the absence of war, the end of war, interludes between wars, or nonwar.

Accordingly, in American military history, the word peace essentially means “the absence of war.” Thus, militaries fight wars to “win the peace”—to bring about periods of nonwar through the use of force. In military paradigms, peace is seen as an ultimate or ideal goal rather than a means to an end. Those engaged in such wars tend to believe theirs will be the last, that the subsequent nonwar period of peace will be enduring, or that moments of nonwar are only interludes that will ultimately give way to future wars.

Related to this is what the Norwegian peace scholar Johan Galtung has termed negative peace, that is, the absence of war and “direct” violence. Under this kind of peace, many forms of “structural” violence (indirect, institutionalized violence) such as economic exploitation, racism, sexism, oppression, hunger, and poverty still exist.

Such narrow notions of peace say nothing about what peace is—only what peace is not. And they describe what it is not in terms of something with which we appear to be quite familiar: violence and war. Among other conclusions, we might infer from this that our knowledge about peace is at best very limited, since we seek to define it in terms of what it is not rather than what it is.

Related to this is the idyllic image of a world without conflict, pain, suffering, and struggle. Yet at all levels of human existence—from the interpersonal to the global—peace includes, rather than precludes, conflict. Conflict is a basic fact of life; thus, a world at peace will be full of conflict. What distinguishes a peaceful world, among other qualities, is the extent to which unnecessary conflict is prevented and all other conflict is managed in nonviolent ways. This idyllic image often arises out of a fundamental confusion surrounding conflict and violence. Conflict and violence are not synonymous terms: conflict can be violent, but it also can be nonviolent; it can be destructive and painful, but it also can be constructive and useful. Clarification of these concepts allows movement beyond the normative fear of conflict and negative associations with it. The existence of conflict in the future then becomes an understandable and acceptable fact of life, and the idyllic image of peace becomes unnecessary and unrealistic.

Although these shadow images of peace seem antithetical (i.e., they could be easily juxtaposed at opposite ends of a continuum depicting ideological views of peace), in fact, they have much in common with one another. Both types attempt to define peace in terms of (1) what is missing rather than what is present; and (2) one or two basic components (e.g., violence and conflict).

Once outside (Western) historical, political, and military contexts, however, peace means much more than the absence of a specific phenomenon, which it is not. For many scholars in peace studies and peace research, peace is much more than not‐war; it is much more than not‐ violence; and it is never seen as not‐conflict.

Essential Peace.

If, instead, we begin with equally valid definitions of pax—and with pacific (from the Latin pacifico and pacificus, and the French pacifique)—we see a different face of peace altogether: one involving reaching agreement by negotiation (as opposed to the use of force); mediation; reconciliation; amity; calm; tranquility; or order—even “rejecting force as a means of achieving policy objectives.” Here it is important to acknowledge that peace can exist at every level of existence, from the intrapersonal (psychological, spiritual, etc.) to the global (political, sociological, environmental). Thus, generic definitions of peace become extremely problematic. Nonetheless, there is general agreement in peace research and peace studies on the broad parameters of peace.

Some peace researchers approach an understanding of what peace is by identifying the conditions necessary for it to exist. The following ideological and infrastructural conditions are not exhaustive by any means, but represent what many experts believe to be essential for peace to develop in the world: the presence of cultures of peace (vs. cultures of violence); the presence of justice (economic, social, and political); the shared democratic use of power (economic, social, and political) among people who govern themselves (“power with”) rather than the governance of the many by the few who have “power over” the many; the presence of economic and ecological sustainability; the nonviolent (vs. violent) management and resolution of conflict; the development of common security that does not rely on the threat or use of violence; the pursuit of collective and individual ends through nonviolence rather than violence; and the elimination of violence in all its myriad forms (including the “war systems” inherent in many nations). Each of these conditions requires a brief explanation.

The presence of cultures of peace refers to the social and cultural components (values, belief systems, ideologies, philosophies, theories, societal norms, etc.) that undergird and legitimate everyday life and the infrastructures we create to carry us into the future. Wars are not fought without ideologies that tell us that it is acceptable and justifiable to conduct them. The ubiquitous violence that exists in the media, in entertainment, in our schools, in our streets, and in our homes does not exist without belief systems that legitimate and encourage it. Similarly, peaceful relationships among individuals, groups, genders, classes, nations—as well as relationships between human beings and the rest of the nonhuman world—cannot exist without cultural values and ideologies that promote nonviolence, respect, and tolerance for everyone, especially those who are somehow different from us. In a culture of peace, for example, people would not be entertained by violence (nor would they seek to be entertained by it).

A fundamental ideological cornerstone of the violence surrounding us today is the idea that one's identity is primarily related to one's gender, race, national origin, political affiliation, economic status, religious ideology, or socioeconomic class. The result of this kind of identity formation is the grouping of people into “us” and “them.” Once a person or an ethnic group or a country is a “them,” they are less valuable, less important, and somehow less human than “us.” This is the first step toward dehumanizing “the other,” which in turn is the first step toward aggression and violence. Cultures of violence inculcate ideologies that give rise to the formation of these kinds of mutually exclusive identities. Cultures of peace, on the other hand, would embrace “species identity” and other inclusive forms of identifications with humanity, which Elise Boulding and Robert Jay Lifton have so eloquently examined in their research and writings.

The presence of justice at all levels (economic, social, and political) refers to the ways in which individuals and groups are treated by society and one another. While justice is a highly debated term, there is little disagreement that peace can exist without it. In particular, this is true because the existence of injustice implies ongoing structural violence against certain peoples or groups. As Johan Galtung notes, the Greek eirene, the Hebrew shalom, and the Arab salam take us beyond the Roman pax to an understanding of peace that includes “justice.” In this view, peace is not only the absence of all violence (including underlying structures of violence) but also the presence of justice (Galtung calls this positive peace).

The shared democratic use of power is relevant to all personal and social relationships, but especially to those in the arenas of governance, business, international relations, and global security. In his groundbreaking work Three Faces of Power, the American economist Kenneth Boulding identifies three basic forms of power (“threat,” “exchange,” and “integrative” power) and argues that integrative power is the most important of the three, as it is what gives rise to relationships of respect, love, friendship, and so on.

The presence of economic and ecological sustainability is essential because economic or ecological development that is not sustainable assumes dysfunctional levels of injustice and violence in the present moment and ultimately will lead to conflict, violence, and systemic imbalance. A peaceful world requires basic levels of security, which are ensured, in part, by stable economic systems and viable ecological relationships with the natural world.

The remaining four conditions fall within the category of nonviolence. While nonviolence can refer to anything (change, transformation, revolution) that happens not to be violent (as in the case of “nonprincipled nonviolence”), this term is used most often in peace studies to refer to the waging of conflict and the transformation of society through the power of active love. Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolence (ahimsa and satyagraha) was “the pursuit of truth through love.” The strength of nonviolence emanates from an understanding of the origins of power: all power derives from the consent of the governed. The political scientist Gene Sharp carefully explains that known histories of successful nonviolent struggle and conflict resolution date back to the fifth century B.C.

Peace requires the nonviolent management and resolution of conflicts for many reasons, not least of which is found in the shadow of peace, which defines peace as the absence of violence. Violence (from the Latin verb violare) means “to violate.” Violence can be verbal, psychological, emotional, and spiritual—as well as physical. It can be collective as well as individual.

As Duane Friesen makes clear, to do violence to someone is to violate the integrity of that person. Gandhi saw life as one long “experiment with truth,” wherein each person possesses a small piece of the truth and conflicts are the moments in which we learn from one another about our separate and collective truths. Waging conflicts violently, then, is the antithesis of being interested in the truth; it is a means to “win” a conflict temporarily—not to be right in the long run. For most in peace studies, violence cannot be seen as conflict resolution: it is, instead, only the violent waging of conflict for reasons that are legitimated by cultures of violence.

For the same reasons that nonviolent conflict resolution is necessary, peace also requires the development of nonviolent systems of common security; the nonviolent pursuit of collective and individual ends; and, ultimately, the elimination of all forms of violence, whether direct or indirect. Thus, for example, personal growth and individual success, interpersonal relationships, social change and transformation, and the conduct of international relations will need to be reenvisioned as nonviolent means and ends rather than accepted as status quo violent means and ends.

Peace Development.

In the languages of Western culture, peace is a noun, not a verb. It is an object, a goal, a future state of being to be passively wished for and waited upon. No one “does” peace. Yet peace, like war, requires intensive preparation, organization, training, and education. It also requires immense resources and commitment. Peace will not exist without being developed and built from the ground up.

Peace development requires leaders: those who can envision a world without violence and design its blueprints. Peace development also requires actors who will transform the elements of nonpeace into the fabric of peace. The shadow of peace assumes that geopolitical entities called nation‐states are the fundamental units of analysis, and that the political and military leaders of these nation‐states are the primary actors and leaders. The development of essential peace, on the other hand, is not limited to nation‐states and their leaders. Rather, essential peace requires the effort of individuals, communities, local and regional governments, teachers, nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, networks, and the nontraditional loci of nonviolent power.

Since essential peace can exist at all levels of existence, from the spiritual to the global, the paths to its successful development are many: there is no one “right” path to peace and there is no one “right” leader who will take us to it. This awareness allows for everyone to contribute to the building of peace in their lives and in their communities. According to many Eastern religions and philosophies, peace at all levels of existence is interconnected. Therefore, the development of peace in one arena of the world may contribute to the development of peace in many arenas of the world.
[See also Pacifism; Peace and Antiwar Movements; Quakers.]


Louis Fischer , The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, 1950.
Mohandas K. Gandhi , An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1957.
Joan V. Bondurant , Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, 1958.
Gene Sharp , The Politics of Nonviolent Action, 3 vols., 1973.
Ira Sandperl , A Little Kinder, 1974.
Kenneth Boulding , Stable Peace, 1978.
James A. Schellenberg , The Science of Conflict, 1982.
Duane Friesen , Christian Peacemaking and International Conflict: A Realist Pacifist Perspective, 1986.
Ervin Laszlo and Jong Youl Yoo, eds., World Encyclopedia of Peace, 1986, 1989.
Robert J. Lifton , The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age, 1987.
Elise Boulding , Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World, 1988.
Sissela Bok , A Strategy for Peace, 1989.
Kenneth Boulding , Three Tales of Power, 1989.
David P. Barash , Introduction to Peace Studies, 1991.
Michael Shuman and Julia Sweig, eds., Conditions of Peace: An Inquiry, 1991.
Johan Galtung , Oxford Companion to Politics of the WSVW, 1993.

Robin J. Crews

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from









Peace is a key concept in the social sciences and a central concern in the field of international relations. There is much focus on peace in the world with many entities working to promote or to protect peace. At the same time, there are many disagreements surrounding it. Definitions of peace, traditional explanations of peace between states, intrastate wars, reconciliation, and the role of third parties are discussed below.


Peace is often defined as the absence of violence. However, there is considerable disagreement over what forms of violence need to be absent. This disagreement is reflected in the list of winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, which includes statesmen, such as U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger (the 1973 laureate along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam); spiritual leaders, such as the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (the 1989 laureate); and various international organizations. These actors have made vastly different contributions to world peace, and their recognition as Nobel laureates demonstrates the diversity of opinion on what peace is and how it is promoted.

In the social sciences, some scholars of peace, such as Johan Galtung of Norway, maintain that peace needs to encompass equality, socioeconomic factors, and social justice. In fact, there is a growing interest in the role of nonviolent social movements, particularly in struggles for equality in domestic political situations, in achieving and maintaining peace. A more minimalist definition of peace focuses on the absence of physical, primarily military, violence between political entities, particularly states. This latter definition lies at the heart of the criticism seen in some circles for the choice of Kenyan Wangari Maathai as the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her work in sustainable development and environmentalism.

For the most part, social science research has focused on the absence of military violence when discussing peace. This is particularly true for international relations scholars who were influenced by the tone of the cold war and the major interstate wars of the twentieth century.


Liberalism and realism, the dominant schools of thought in peace studies and international relations, both accept that anarchy (which is defined in international relations as the lack of a central government) is a major concern for states. However, these schools diverge on the implications of this situation on interstate cooperation and conflict. Peace studies also encompasses various lines of thoughts, with such emphases as Marxism (capitalism), feminism (gender), and constructivism (identity and meanings).

One finding that has received much attention is that democracies do not go to war with each other. Researchers trace this argument back to the views of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804) in his essay Towards Perpetual Peace (1795), and today it is identified with the liberal school of thought. This type of democratic peace has received much support in countless empirical studies, as well as consideration from policy circles, particularly in the West. A democratic country is essentially in a state of stable peacethat is, military violence against another democracy is removed as an option from the mindsets of leaders. In some parts of the world, this status extends to entire regions, as illustrated by pluralistic security communities such as exist in contemporary western Europe. Developments in western Europe, specifically the formation of the European Union, highlight other important elements that are identified with Kants vision of what it takes to attain peace, such as economic development, economic ties with other countries, and international organizations.

There is another school of thought where the focus is on the role of alliances, threats, and power. This approach falls primarily within the power politics or realist school in international relations. Thus, in the case of western Europe, external threats and powerful opponents, particularly the Soviet Union, contributed to the coming together of European countries after World War II (19391945). In this view, peace emerges when there is a balance of power. That is, power deters power and in the process maintains the peace. Some have even argued that a world in which more states possess nuclear weapons might result in less bloodshed.


As shown above, the traditional schools of thought have much to say about interstate peace and war. Although some scholars suggest that interstate wars are becoming obsolete, states continue to justify the need to use violence for survival as seen in interactions between developed and developing countries. In contrast, there is little expectation that intrastate warsthat is, civil warsmay become obsolete.

Intrastate wars are more common than interstate wars, and they result in greater devastation. Civilians are particularly vulnerable in intrastate wars, and the international system has been more averse to intervening in such conflicts. Periods of respite after such wars are short, as many actors involved in intrastate conflicts return to fighting because wars leave people with few options. For this reason, there are growing calls for attention to development and institution building after intrastate wars.

Conflicts over control of governments and territory tend to play central roles in warfare. In a positive development, the international community since the end of World War II has generally not recognized territorial aggrandizement attempts. However, international norms change over time and there is no guarantee that this situation will last. Disagreements among major powers over the rules of the game are of particular importance because considerable global violence may occur when powerful countries are no longer satisfied with the rules and act more unilaterally.


There is an increasing focus on improving relations following hostility between political units. In this regard, it is useful to identify varying levels of peace. A low level of peace between former belligerents describes a situation where there is little more than a halt to fightingthat is, a frozen war. In contrast, a high level of peace encompasses institutionalization of relations and mutually beneficial interactions between former opponents. This approach is related to the topic of reconciliation, which involves the study of how harmonious relations come about after extensive violence.

Particularly important in reconciliation is the willingness of former opponents to improve their relations. In this regard, leadership plays a crucial role. Leaders who would rather rally the public against a former foe for domestic political gain certainly do not contribute to the improvement of relations. Leaders in democracies face a tougher atmosphere because domestic opposition can be particularly fierce and hard to ignore. As such, former warmongers have sometimes played important roles in improving relations with an opponent because their credentials lead to the belief that they will defend vital interests. One of the potential reasons for this change in heart toward a former foe is the presence of a greater security threat.

Postwar relations are influenced by the war itself and may set in motion a cycle of violence. Existing empirical research suggests that the contents of the terms of peace treaties influence the prospects for future violence. This is true for both interstate and intrastate wars. However, an important difference between interstate and intrastate wars is that forgiveness and truth-seeking play a more central role in contributing to intrastate reconciliation.

This difference brings to the forefront the positions of morality and power. Can there be peace without justice? Can peace be imposed? The lack of an international tribunal with significant authority limits what can be expected. Justice has been a major issue following intrastate wars, where public trials may occur. Yet the fear of going back to war, weak judiciaries, and the complicated task of determining culprits has resulted in the generous distribution of amnesty, and societies often seem willing to accept less than full justice. After interstate wars, justice is even more tied to power, as the defeated are the only ones on trial. This situation generally arises when one side is able to impose its will on the other, and in some contexts such impositions have been followed by the attainment of high levels of peace between states, as occurred following World War II. Yet an imposition of peace by an imperial force, a party in a civil war, or an international force is generally associated with a low level of peace and an eventual return to arms.


There is a considerable role for third parties. Some countries have contributed to United Nations peacekeeping operations, which have traditionally acted to keep belligerents away from each other after a cease-fire without taking sides and generally with the prior consent of the opposing parties. Third-party military (and police) deployment is particularly important after intrastate war situations where there is much suspicion and where former belligerents are likely to interpret the moves of the other as hostile and take actions to increase their security that are likely to make the other side fear them, a situation known as a security dilemma. While peacekeeping is fairly uncontroversial, such actions have had mixed records. Other third-party efforts, such as peace enforcement, are more hotly debated because they involve coercing the opposing sides to stop fighting through the use of massive force. Most of the time, third-party military involvement occurs after considerable violence has already taken place, but since the 1990s there has been a shift toward preventive diplomacy. Such efforts include the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia, which was deployed in early 1993 before a breakdown into chaos emerged.

Not all third-party efforts involve military might. Nongovernmental organizations play a role in socioeconomic development and in strengthening institutions and building ties before and after violence. In addition, while many entities work out their differences through bilateral means, there are other options, including adjudication and mediation. Yet, as with many other aspects that characterize attempts to foster peace, mediation does not guarantee success, given the array of elements to consider, such as timing and leverage.

Thus, the study of peace continues. Much more is understood about peace as the absence of military violence. At the same time, there is still much to be done in the area of reconciliation and in efforts to formulate a broader definition of peace.

SEE ALSO Nobel Peace Prize; War


Doyle, Michael W. 1997. Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism. New York: Norton.

Galtung, Johan. 1975. Essays in Peace Research. Copenhagen: Ejlers.

Kacowicz, Arie, Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, Ole Elgström, and Magnus Jerneck. 2000. Stable Peace Among Nations. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Kant, Immanuel. [1795] 1996. Towards Perpetual Peace. In Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor, 317351. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Long, William J., and Peter Brecke. 2003. War and Reconciliation: Reason and Emotion in Conflict Resolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wallensteen, Peter. 2006. Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace, and the Global System. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reşat Bayer

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


peace if you want peace, you must prepare for war proverbial saying, mid 16th century, meaning that a country in a state of military preparedness is unlikely to be attacked. The 4th-century Roman military writer Vegetius had said, ‘Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum [Let him who desires peace, prepare for war].’
Peace Corps in the US, an organization (created by the Peace Corps Act of 1961) which sends young people to work as volunteers in developing countries.
peace dividend a (financial) benefit from reduced defence spending; a sum of public money which may become available for other purposes when spending on defence is reduced. The term was first recorded in the US in the late 1960s, at a time when the potential benefits of withdrawal from the war in Vietnam were increasingly acknowledged, and gained a high profile again in the early 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Peace Garden State an informal name for North Dakota.
peace in our time originally from the Book of Common Prayer (1662), ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord.’ The phrase was famously used by Neville Chamberlain (1869–1940) on his return from Munich in September 1938.
peace pipe a tobacco pipe offered and smoked as a token of peace among North American Indians.
peace process a series of initiatives, talks, and negotiations, designed to bring about a negotiated settlement between warring or disputing parties; in the 1990s, the term has been used with particular reference to attempts at a settlement in Northern Ireland.
peace with honour a phrase recorded from the 17th century, but used most famously by Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, on his return from the Congress of Berlin in July 1878.

See also breach of the peace, Carthaginian peace, kiss of peace.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"peace." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"peace." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . (April 30, 2017).

"peace." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


peace / pēs/ • n. 1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility: you can while away an hour or two in peace and seclusion. ∎  mental calm; serenity: the peace of mind this insurance gives you. 2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence: the Straits were to be open to warships in time of peace. ∎  [in sing.] a period of this: the peace didn't last. ∎  [in sing.] a treaty agreeing to the cessation of war between warring states: support for a negotiated peace. ∎  freedom from civil disorder: police action to restore peace. ∎  freedom from dispute or dissension between individuals or groups: the 8.8 percent offer that promises peace with the board. 3. (the peace) a ceremonial handshake or kiss exchanged during a service in some churches (now usually only in the Eucharist), symbolizing Christian love and unity. See also kiss of peace at kiss. • interj. 1. used as a greeting. 2. used as an order to remain silent. PHRASES: at peace 1. free from anxiety or distress. ∎  dead (used to suggest that someone has escaped from the difficulties of life). 2. in a state of friendliness: a man at peace with the world. hold one's peace remain silent about something. keep the peace refrain or prevent others from disturbing civil order: the police must play a crucial role in keeping the peace. make peace (or one's peace) reestablish friendly relations; become reconciled: not every conservative has made peace with big government. no peace for the wearysee no rest for the weary at weary.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"peace." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"peace." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (April 30, 2017).

"peace." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


Peace, river, 945 mi (1,521 km) long, formed by the junction of the Finlay and Parsnip rivers at Williston Lake, N central British Columbia, Canada. It flows east through the Rocky Mts., then generally northeast across N Alberta and onto the Northern Plains where it meanders to the Slave River at Lake Athabasca. From the head of the Finlay River the Peace River is 1,195 mi (1,923 km) long; it is one of the chief headstreams of the Mackenzie River. At the mouth of the Peace River is Wood Buffalo National Park. The valley of the middle Peace is fertile, with wheat the chief crop; it is the northernmost commercially important agricultural region of Canada. Large natural gas reserves are tapped along the river; oil, coal, salt, and gypsum deposits are also worked. Near Hudson Hope, British Columbia, W. A. C. Bennett Dam (625 ft/191 m high; opened 1967) impounds Williston Lake (680 sq mi/1,761 sq km). The dam's power plant (present generating capacity 2.1 million kW), the sixth largest in Canada, provides electricity for Vancouver. The Peace River was probably visited (1775–78) by Peter Pond, the American fur trader, and first explored (1792–93) by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the Canadian explorer. It was long an important route of fur traders. Settlement in the valley began in the early 1900s.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


494. Peace

  1. Beulah, Land of resting-place of pilgrims after crossing river of Death. [Br. Lit.: Pilgrims Progress ]
  2. Concordia ancient Roman goddess of peace and domestic harmony. [Rom. Myth.: Zimmerman, 68]
  3. dove emblem of peace, tenderness, innocence, and gentleness. [Folklore: Brewer Dictionary, 340]
  4. Geneva site of peace conferences (1955, 1960); seat of League of Nations (19201946). [Swiss Hist.: NCE, 1058]
  5. Goshen, Land of place of peace and prosperity. [O.T.: Genesis 14:10]
  6. Irene goddess of peace and conciliation. [Gk. Myth.: Espy, 21]
  7. Jesus Christ prince of peace in Christian beliefs. [N.T.: Matthew; Mark; Luke; John]
  8. laurel traditional emblem of peace. [Plant Symbolism: Jobes, 374]
  9. olive branch symbol of peace and serenity. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Brewer Handbook; O.T.: Genesis, 8:11]
  10. Pax goddess of peace. [Rom. Myth.: Zimmerman, 194]
  11. peace pipe pipe of North American Indians; smoked at conclusion of peace treaties. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 427]
  12. Quakers nonmilitant, gentle, religious sect. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 189]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


peace freedom from war, disturbance, or dissension XII; quiet, stillness, concord XIII. ME. pais, pes — AN. pes, OF. pais (mod. paix) :— L. pāx, pāc-.
Hence peacemaker XV.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . (April 30, 2017).

"peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


Peace (exchange of greetings): see KISS OF PEACE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"Peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (April 30, 2017).

"Peace." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from


peaceanis, apiece, Berenice, caprice, cassis, cease, coulisse, crease, Dumfries, fils, fleece, geese, grease, Greece, kris, lease, Lucrece, MacNeice, Matisse, McAleese, Nice, niece, obese, peace, pelisse, piece, police, Rees, Rhys, set piece, sublease, surcease, two-piece, underlease •mantelpiece • headpiece • hairpiece •tailpiece • Greenpeace •chimney piece • frontispiece •timepiece • codpiece • crosspiece •mouthpiece • showpiece • earpiece •masterpiece •centrepiece (US centerpiece) •altarpiece • workpiece • ambergris •calabrese

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"peace." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 30 Apr. 2017 <>.

"peace." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (April 30, 2017).

"peace." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from