By Danny Kleschick
International Week of Peace, a week in which the international community can take the opportunity to re-evaluate its progress towards global peace, concludes today. World peace may at times seem a lofty and ambitious goal given the current political climate. However, as the preamble of UNESCO states, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed” . Violence is birthed through societal systems and attitudes prone to them. In turn, we as a global society have the ability to make a determined effort in promoting nonviolence. The first step in this process is rethinking and reconstructing the pillars of our society in order to foster a more peaceful attitude is the first and most essential step in promoting global peace.
The Institute of Economics and Peace, a research institute dedicated to promoting peace and quantifying its economic benefits, has created 8 specific Pillars of Positive Peace directed towards this end. These pillars were formulated in order to promote Positive Peace, which the IEP defines as “the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies… [and] an optimum environment in which human potential can flourish” . The pillars are supported by statistical analysis evidencing their correlation with internal peace, and attempt to create an implementable, scientific action plan towards peace. Before detailing the pillars, IEP’s clarifies that due to the complex nature of such an ambitious goal as world peace, it is difficult to pinpoint exact statistical causality of a single pillar with universal applicability. These pillars must be thought of as an interdependent system to promote peace rather than eight separate foundations. The eight pillars are:
A well-functioning government
A sound business environment
An equitable distribution of resources
Universal rights of all persons
Good relations with neighbors
Free flow of information
High human capital
Low levels of corruption.
Each of the eight pillars are accompanied by specific factors contributing to an environment which maximizes potential of lasting peace. Those most strongly correlated with internal peace include efficiency of tax system and public service provision, minimizing grievances along ethnic, religious and political divides, reducing public corruption and fragmentation of economic elitism. In short, the IEP promotes equitable economic development and political opportunity as the major contributing factor towards Positive Peace.
While many of these goals seem to place the responsibility of lasting peace on public systems, it is essential to remember that all societal actors benefit from peace and thus we must all be actively vested in its promotion. The report provides a wide range of responsibilities and areas of improvement for both the public and private sectors, as well as individual citizens:
Governments must be held accountable to ensuring fair democratic processes and systems, as well as ensuring public systems that aid towards equitable development and healthy societies. At the same time, a regulatory environment that facilitates private sector growth must be promoted in order to encourage innovation and social mobility.
Companies who drive private growth must discourage discrimination on the basis of race, gender or religion to ensure that economic rewards are distributed on merit rather than societal privilege.
Onus falls on each and every citizen to reduce stigmatization in our daily lives as well as to act as a check on democratic systems not only for the protection of our own personal liberties, but for all of society.
War and human rights violations are atrocities that should have no place in our advanced and modern world. It personally horrifies me that such a disparity exists between the technological innovations achieved in the past century and the fact that violence is still widely used as a medium of conflict resolution today. However, while it is important to focus efforts on ending current conflicts, it is equally if not more essential that we recognize the concrete steps that can be made to pre-emptively stifle violence. Social change is slow moving and occurs through constant, meticulous re-examination of institutional structures. As the International Week of Peace Concludes, I maintain the essentiality of this constant, introspective consideration of how we can best prevent future violence. This process includes every aspect of society, from ensuring democracy in the highest levels of government to fostering nonviolence in the education of each young person. Inclusive involvement from each level of society not only ensures a united front in combating the continued use of violence, but also ensures that each stakeholder’s necessities and interests are represented in the peacebuilding movement. Global peace must take both a short term focus on ending current conflicts, but also a long term approach towards changing societal structures that foster sustainable peace. Only through looking ahead can those who value peace triumph over the global forces that would continue the destructive nature of violent conflict.
 “The Constitution,” About us, UNESCO, accessed September 19, 2017, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/history/constitution/
 Institute of Economics and Peace. “Positive Peace Report, 2016: A Compilation of the Leading Research on Positive Peace and Resiliance. 2016. 4, 55-72