What is Positive Peace?

The Institute for Economics and Peace empirically derived the Positive Peace schema to address the lack of prevailing guidelines countries could use in their journey towards meeting peace goals. Positive Peace is the presence of attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. Negative Peace, on the other hand, is the absence of violence or the threat of violence. Positive Peace investment promotes the optimum environment for human potential to flourish: in a personal, societal, and economic sense.

The Eight Pillars

The pillars of Positive Peace have been derived empirically from IEP’s research. Understanding what creates and sustains peaceful societies cannot be discovered from looking at violence alone. The pillars focus on how to build and maintain a peaceful society, instead of purely focusing on responding to violence. In the same way that study of pathology has led to several breakthroughs regarding treatment and cures, the shifted focus of Medical Science towards healthy humans instead of sick bodies allowed us to understand how to stay well and avoid disease. The shifted focus towards Positive Peace has revealed important information about societies.

The pillars each represent a complex set of social dynamics. Each pillar holds individual value for a society. Yet, each pillar is interdependent. One pillar could be a driver for another. In many ways these are the cornerstones of a healthy and robust community.

Well-Functioning Government

A Well-Functioning Government delivers high-quality public and civil services, engenders trust and participation within the community, demonstrates political stability and upholds the rule of law.

Sound Business Environment

A Sound Business Environment refers to the conditions that enable businesses to perform well and to operate efficiently. Business competitiveness and economic productivity are both associated with the most peaceful countries, as is the presence of regulatory systems which are conducive to robust business operation.

Equitable Distribution of Resources

Equitable Distribution of Resources measures how society distributes essential resources and opportunities. Peaceful countries tend to ensure equity in access to resources like education and health, as well as adequate access to opportunity

Acceptance of the Rights of Others

Acceptance of the Rights of Others is designed to capture tolerance and respect between groups within a society. This pillar instructs the right to free speech, and the opportunity to join groups that protect citizens’ best interests, like unions and political parties.

Good Relations with Neighbours

Good Relations with Neighbours describes a country’s capacity and proclivity for using diplomacy and negotiation to pre-emptively manage disagreements before they become violent. It also describes a country’s ability to manage positive relationships with other countries, such as trade relations.

Free Flow of Information

The Free Flow of Information Pillar explores the degree to which citizens can easily access and exchange information while being free from restrictions or censorship. This is essential to a well-informed society capable of making considered decisions.

High Levels of Human Capital

Human capital refers to society’s “stock” of human potential and represents an economic value to society that comes from increased education, health and the state of youth. Increased levels of human capital can build the institutions that foster peace.

Low Levels of Corruption

Low Levels of Corruption captures the extent to which society’s attitudes, institutions and structures which prevent corruption or hold individuals and organizations accountable when corruption does occur.

Why its Transformational

Unparalleled to any other circumstance in history, the world is now facing substantial multidimensional challenges. With an ever decreasing biodiversity, climate change and over population adding pressure to societies in conflict and in peace, new solutions to new challenges are required.

Positive Peace provides a framework that helps to understand and address the complicated experiences of conflict and peace the world faces. Often our focus on the response to, and prevention of, conflict misdirects our attention from solidifying strong structures that are resistant to conflict. By transforming the focus of policy, society, and institutions from simply violence prevention to an active investment in a thriving society, communities are transformed at each level. Every sector of society and every citizen is re-engineered towards positive, robust, and resilient institutions, structures, and attitudes.

Learning Positive Peace

Understanding that each community is a unique organism of intent, self-regulation, and evolution, is key to implementing the pillars of Positive Peace. The pillars shine a light on the direction that communities should follow in order to sustain peace.

The primary goal of the Positive Peace workshops that IEP facilitates is to educate and develop actions that can strengthen peace. By focusing on a sub-national and community level, the workshop attendees can stimulate the eight pillars of Positive Peace from a bottom up approach. The unique benefit of the workshops are their ability to tailor to the drivers of issues in a specific community. The workshops currently are designed for three different types of participants:

  • Government and civil society actors
  • Rival groups in a conflict setting
  • Local community leaders and youth

In November 2015, IEP coordinated a workshop on Positive Peace in Zimbabwe. Over 50 participants attended, including senior government officials such as Zimbabwe’s Vice President, church leaders, academics, and NGO representatives. Representatives from the ruling party and opposition parties came to an agreement on areas where they could tangibly work together.

The ongoing commitment to training rising youth leaders in Libya in Positive Peace is another example of the implementation of IEP’s workshops. Since the 2011 revolution, Libya has been mired in violent conflict that crosses ethnic, regional and political divides. The workshop has allowed the rare experience of participants from different cities across Libya to sit at the same table and share their experiences of Libya’s recent history. With the support of the Italian Government and UNICEF, further Libyan Youth workshops are being carried out in 2018.