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Read more about Galtung ....


The nine topics of the nine chapters of the Online Journal for Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence are linked thematically as much as they are complex topics in their own right. The purpose of this side note is two-fold - to first remind us of those interlinkages and then to explore this topic in greater depth to provide greater explanation for the interlinkages.



The Interlinkages ....

In the next few chapters we discuss what happened when the United Nations attempted to implement Galtung’s ideas about Peacebuilding in conflict zones around the world. Also important are parallels to the UN Program for a Culture of Peace, and the emerging importance of a movement to scientifically measure peacefulness to provide guidelines for Peacebuilding planning. We discuss the relationship of Peacebuilding to nonviolence - how nonviolence is the core nature of peace, and how the study of Peacebuilding leads to the realization of five levels of nonviolent action. We also discuss important parallels and interrelations of Peacebuilding to individual psychology and to social and sustainable development programs. Finally we discuss the indispensable place of disarmament in Peacebuilding. This is a single theory with Peacebuilding at its center - the idea that you must have equality, justice, inclusiveness and strong democratic institutions in order for peace to last - but that has myriads of detailed facets reflecting the diversity of locations and cultures and histories found across the world. The unified theory is reflected in our summary document - Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, while the myriad of details is reflected in our growing body of papers, blogs, videos and expert resources that are found in each chapter.


(more about this topic; excerpted from Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, by David Kirshbaum….)



Chapter 1. Galtung’s Theory of Violence and Peace


Dr. Johan Galtung, of Oslo University and now retired(1) acknowledged that the natural world is full of violence, and I would like to add that human nature and even physical reality are full of violence. So violence is natural and prevalent in our reality.


Galtung also talked about the power over us of violence that we grew up with.


Galtung said there are actually 5 types of violence. Those first two we have very limited control over, but the last 3 levels of violence is where we do have control and the choice to do something about it.


Galtung’s 5 Types of Violence

(Footnote 2)


  • Natural Violence - violence found in the natural world and I suggest in human nature and physical reality as well.

  • inherited Violence - violence we grew up with that influences thinking, attitudes and behavior.

  • Direct or Personal Violence - violence that human individuals or groups choose to practice against each other.

  • Structural Violence - social and legal structures like laws and contracts that implement oppression, discrimination and exploitation, etc., of people or groups of people

  • Cultural Violence - cultures that glorify and promote violence, war, weapons, oppression, discrimination and exploitation, etc.



Even though we have some control over the first two, it is the last 3 where we have real control, and is the key to creating lasting peace.


Creating lasting peace involves 2 levels of peace work:


Galtung’s 2 Levels of Peacework

(Footnote 3)


  • Negative Peace - temporarily in the short-term stopping and preventing violence; includes the tactics of(4):

    • Peacemaking (stopping violence)

    • Peacekeeping (preventing violence from violating peace)


  • Positive Peace - includes the tactics of:

    • Peacebuilding (long-term changes so that peace will last)


Negative Peace is the short-term things you do to stop and prevent violence, but which do not create long- term change so violence does not return.


In turn, Negative Peace (Peacemaking and Peacekeeping) includes two categories of actions to stop and prevent violence(5):


  • Dissociative Negative Peace - separating the conflicting parties (mostly Peacemaking). Tactics such as:

    • Having a stronger third party army enforce the separation.

    • Building barriers between them like walls.

    • Using a natural barrier to separate them like a river or mountains.


  • Associative Negative Peace - getting the conflicting parties to talk nonviolently (mostly Peacekeeping). Tactics like:

    • Negotiating agreements like cease-fires, armistice or even peace agreements.

    • Negotiating prisoner or cultural exchanges or family unification programs.

    • Negotiating ongoing regular schedule of meetings to discuss issues.

    • Negotiating gradualling opening borders.



Positive Peace - Peacebuilding

To create peace that will last, Galtung says that Peacebuilding must take place in 3 areas. Notice how these areas match the 3 types of violence we do have control over(6,8):


  • Direct or Personal Positive Peace - education and training so that people (individuals and groups) will know how to communicate, solve problems, and advocate for justice more effectively and nonviolently, and will choose to do so in times of conflict.

  • Structural Positive Peace - political programs to change laws so they promote equality, inclusion and justice and rule-of-law, protect human and civil rights, and stop and prevent oppression, discrimination and exploitation. Thus people will feel good about their government and about their own futures and the future of their kids.

  • Cultural Positive Peace - programs that transform cultures so they glorify peace and nonviolence, and equality, inclusion, justice and rule-of-law, and that stigmatize oppression, discrimination, exploitation and violence.


Notice how Cultural Positive Peace facilitates Direct/Personal Positive Peace and Structural Positive Peace. This is because changing laws and training in nonviolence is greatly helped if there are corresponding changes in culture that respect, glorify and promote equality, justice, inclusion, rule-of-law, etc. .


Galtung goes further to describe 6 necessities for such Peacebuilding efforts to succeed and last(7):


  • Equity - people must experience equality and justice

  • Entropy - people must be skilled at managing conflict, crises and change.

  • Symbiosis - all sectors of society must collaborate and cooperate with each other.

  • Large Scope - all issues must be handled and hopefully resolved. Nothing should be ignored or denied. Thus all people feel listened to and their concerns are acknowledged and respected.

  • Broad Domain - all sectors of society must be included in decision-making (all ethnic groups, economic classes, professional groups, and areas of the country).

  • Superstructure - there must be a permanent campus of meeting rooms fully equipped with the latest communications technology staffed by highly trained and skilled personnel ready 24/7 to help with all peacekeeping or Peacebuilding efforts - like the UN.


What this means is that efforts at Direct/Personal Positive Peace, Structural Positive Peace, and Cultural Positive Peace will be more effective if the people have a sense of equality and justice, have the strong ability to manage conflict, crises and change, everyone involved are cooperating with each other, no issue or complaint is being ignored, all segments of society are involved and there is a strong physical structure to support peace efforts with skilled staff and highly useable meeting rooms.


Those are the basics of Galtung’s theory of how to create lasting peace. Now what happened when the UN tried to implement these ideas?

To read more articles and watch videos about this topic, check out the nonviolenceny.org/journal.



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