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This article is about the idea of full harmony and the absence of hostility. For other uses, see Peace (disambiguation).
Fountain of Time honors the first 100 years of peace between Great Britain and the United States resulting from the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814.

Peace is an occurrence of harmony characterized by lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility and retribution, peace also suggests sincere attempts at reconciliation, the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality, and a working political order that serves the true interests of all.


The term 'peace' originates most recently from the Anglo-French pes, and the Old French pais, meaning "peace, reconciliation, silence, agreement" (11th century).[1] But, Pes itself comes from the Latin pax, meaning "peace, compact, agreement, treaty of peace, tranquility, absence of hostility, harmony." The English word came into use in various personal greetings from c.1300 as a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, which, according to Jewish theology, comes from a Hebrew verb meaning 'to restore'.[2] Although 'peace' is the usual translation, however, it is an incomplete one, because 'shalom,' which is also cognate with the Arabic salaam, has multiple other meanings in addition to peace, including justice, good health, safety, well-being, prosperity, equity, security, good fortune, and friendliness.[citation needed] At a personal level, peaceful behaviors are kind, considerate, respectful, just, and tolerant of others' beliefs and behaviors — tending to manifest goodwill.

This latter understanding of peace can also pertain to an individual's introspective sense or concept of her/himself, as in being "at peace" in one's own mind, as found in European references from c.1200. The early English term is also used in the sense of "quiet", reflecting calm, serene, and meditative approaches to family or group relationships that avoid quarreling and seek tranquility — an absence of disturbance or agitation.

In many languages the word for peace is also used as a greeting or a farewell, for example the Hawaiian word aloha, as well as the Arabic word salaam. In English the word peace is occasionally used as a farewell, especially for the dead, as in the phrase rest in peace.

Religious beliefs and peace [edit]

Gari Melchers, Mural of Peace, 1896.

Religious beliefs often seek to identify and address the basic problems of human life, including the conflicts between, among, and within persons and societies.

Many Christians call Jesus of Nazareth the "Prince of Peace", and see him as a 'Messiah,' (which, transliterated, means Anointed One'),[3] the "Christ", who manifested as the Son of God on Earth to establish God's Kingdom of Peace, wherein persons, societies, and all of Creation are to be healed of evil.

Buddhists believe that peace can be attained once all suffering ends. They regard all suffering as stemming from cravings (in the extreme, greed), aversions (fears), or delusions. To eliminate such suffering and achieve personal peace, followers in the path of the Buddha adhere to a set of teachings called the Four Noble Truths — a central tenet in Buddhist philosophy.

Islam means submission. The title "Muslim"—etymologically directly related to salaam and the name Islam—means a person who submits to Allah in salaam. The submission to Allah (the Arabic proper noun for "The God", One and Only) is based on humility. An attitude of humility within one's own self cannot be accomplished without total rejection of violence, and a personal attitude and alignment toward peace.

Inner peace[edit]

Main article: Inner peace

Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. Being "at peace" is considered by many to be healthy homeostasis and the opposite of being stressed or anxious. Peace of mind is generally associated with bliss and happiness.

Peace of mind, serenity, and calmness are descriptions of a disposition free from the effects of stress. In some cultures, inner peace is considered a state of consciousness or enlightenment that may be cultivated by various forms of training, such as prayer, meditation, t'ai chi ch'uan (太极拳, tàijíquán) or yoga, for example. Many spiritual practices refer to this peace as an experience of knowing oneself. Finding inner peace is often associated with traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism as well as the New Age movement. Inner peace is also the first of four concepts to living life in the rave culture acronym PLUR.


Main article: Satyagraha

Satyagraha (Sanskrit: सत्याग्रह satyāgraha) is a philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also known as "Mahatma" Gandhi). He deployed satyagraha techniques in campaigns for Indian independence and also during his earlier struggles in South Africa.

The word satyagraha itself was coined through a public contest that Gandhi sponsored through the newspaper he published in South Africa, 'Indian Opinion', when he realized that neither the common, contemporary Hindu language nor the English language contained a word which fully expressed his own meanings and intentions when he talked about his nonviolent approaches to conflict. According to Gandhi's autobiography, the contest winner was Maganlal Gandhi (presumably no relation), who submitted the entry 'sadagraha', which Gandhi then modified to 'satyagraha'. Etymologically, this Hindic word means 'truth-firmness', and is commonly translated as 'steadfastness in the truth' or 'truth-force'.

Satyagraha theory also influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. during the campaigns he led during the civil rights movement in the United States. The theory of satyagraha sees means and ends as inseparable. Therefore, it is contradictory to try to use violence to obtain peace. As Gandhi wrote: "They say, 'means are, after all, means'. I would say, 'means are, after all, everything'. As the means so the end..."[4] A contemporary quote sometimes attributed to Gandhi, but also to A. J. Muste, sums it up: 'There is no way to peace; peace is the way.'

Justice and injustice[edit]

Since classical times, it has been noted that peace has sometimes been achieved by the victor over the vanquished by the imposition of ruthless measures. In his book Agricola the Roman historian Tacitus includes eloquent and vicious polemics against the rapacity and greed of Rome. One, that Tacitus says is by the Caledonian chieftain Calgacus, ends Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. (To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace. — Oxford Revised Translation).

Discussion of peace is therefore at the same time a discussion on the form of such peace. Is it simple absence of mass organized killing (war) or does peace require a particular morality and justice? (just peace).[5] A peace must be seen at least in two forms:

  • A simple silence of arms, absence of war.
  • Absence of war but accompanied by particular requirments for the mutual settlement of relations, which are characterized by terms as justice, mutual respect, respect for law and good will.

More recently, advocates for radical reform in justice systems have called for a public policy adoption of non-punitive, non-violent Restorative Justice methods, and many of those studying the success of these methods, including a United Nations working group on Restorative Justice, have attempted to re-define justice in terms related to peace. From the late 2000s on, a Theory of Active Peace has been proposed which conceptually integrates justice into a larger peace theory.

Movements and activism[edit]


Main article: Pacifism

Pacifism is the categorical opposition to any forms of war or violence as means of settling disputes or gaining advantage. Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.

Pacifism may be based on moral principles (a deontological view) or pragmatism (a consequentialist view). Principled pacifism holds that violence of any form is an inappropriate response to conflict, and is morally wrong. Pragmatic pacifism holds that the costs of war and inter-personal violence are so substantial that better ways of resolving disputes must be found. Pacifists in general reject theories of Just War.


United Nations[edit]

Main article: United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achieving world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.

UN peacekeeping missions. Dark blue regions indicate current missions, while light blue regions represent former missions.

The UN, after approval by the Security Council, sends peacekeepers to regions where armed conflict has recently ceased or paused to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage combatants from resuming hostilities. Since the UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily provided by member states of the UN. The forces, also called the "Blue Helmets", who enforce UN accords are awarded United Nations Medals, which are considered international decorations instead of military decorations. The peacekeeping force as a whole received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

Nobel Peace Prize[edit]

Main article: Nobel Peace Prize
Henry Dunant was awarded the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize for his role in founding the International Red Cross.

The highest honor awarded to peace maker is the Nobel Prize in Peace, awarded since 1901 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It is awarded annually to internationally notable persons following the prize's creation in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who

Rhodes Scholarships and other fellowships[edit]

In creating the Rhodes Scholarships for outstanding students from the United States, Germany and much of the British Empire, Cecil Rhodes wrote in 1901 that 'the object is that an understanding between the three great powers will render war impossible and educational relations make the strongest tie'.[7] This peace purpose of the Rhodes Scholarships was very prominent in the first half of the 20th century, and has become prominent again under Warden of the Rhodes House Donald Markwell.[8] This vision greatly influenced Senator J. William Fulbright in the goal of the Fulbright fellowships to promote international understanding and peace, and has guided many other international fellowship programs.[9]

International Peace Belt[edit]

The International Peace Belt, created by artist Wendy Black Nasta, is a living symbol of the peaceful unity of all nations.

Gandhi Peace Prize[edit]

Main article: Gandhi Peace Prize

The International Gandhi Peace Prize, named after Mahatma Gandhi, is awarded annually by the Government of India. It is launched as a tribute to the ideals espoused by Gandhi in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth. This is an annual award given to individuals and institutions for their contributions towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. The award carries Rs. 10 million in cash, convertible in any currency in the world, a plaque and a citation. It is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, creed or sex.

Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize[edit]

The Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize, named after the artist Paul Ré, is awarded bi-annually by the University of New Mexico (UNM).

Student Peace Prize[edit]

Main article: Student Peace Prize

The Student Peace Prize is awarded biennially to a student or a student organization that has made a significant contribution to promoting peace and human rights.

Culture of Peace News Network[edit]

The Culture of Peace News Network, otherwise known simply as CPNN, is a UN authorized interactive online news network, committed to supporting the global movement for a culture of peace.


See also: Peace museums

A peace museum is a museum that documents historical peace initiatives. Many peace museums also provide advocacy programs for nonviolent conflict resolution. This may include conflicts at the personal, regional or international level.

Smaller institutions:


The following are monuments to peace:

Name Location Organization Meaning Image
Japanese Peace Bell New York City, NY, USA United Nations World peace Japanese Peace Bell of United Nations.JPG
Fountain of Time Chicago, IL, USA Chicago Park District 100 years of peace between the USA and UK Fountain of Time front1.jpg
Fredensborg Palace Fredensborg, Denmark Frederick IV The peace between Denmark–Norway and Sweden, after Great Northern War which was signed July 3, 1720 on the site of the unfinished palace. Fredensborg Slot 124.JPG
Confederate Memorial[10] Arlington, Va, USA Arlington National Cemetery Southern States choosing peace over war Confederate Memorial Arlington Cemetery LOC13525v.jpg
International Peace Garden North Dakota, Manitoba non-profit organization Peace between the US and Canada, World peace 2009-0521-CDNtrip003-PeaceGarden.jpg
Peace Arch border between US and Canada, near Surrey, British Columbia. non-profit organization Built to honor the first 100 years of peace between Great Britain and the United States resulting from the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. Peace Arch.JPG
Statue of Europe Brussels European Commission Unity in Peace in Europe Statue of Europe-(Unity-in-Peace).jpg
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Alberta, Montana non-profit organization World Peace GlacierNP L7 20010701.jpg
The Peace Dome Windyville, MO, USA not-for-profit organization Many minds working together toward a common ideal to create real and lasting transformation of consciousness on planet Earth. A place for people to come together to learn how to live peaceably.[11]


Many different theories of "peace" exist in the world of peace studies, which involves the study of conflict transformation, disarmament, and cessation of violence.[12] The definition of "peace" can vary with religion, culture, or subject of study.

One definition is that peace is a state of balance and understanding in yourself and between others, where respect is gained by the acceptance of differences, tolerance persists, conflicts are resolved through dialog, people's rights are respected and their voices are heard, and everyone is at their highest point of serenity without social tension.[citation needed]

Game theory[edit]

Main article: Peace war game

The Peace War Game is a game theory approach to peace and conflict studies. An iterated game originally played in academic groups and by computer simulation for years to study possible strategies of cooperation and aggression.[13] As peace makers became richer over time, it became clear that making war had greater costs than initially anticipated. The only strategy that acquired wealth more rapidly was a "Genghis Khan", a constant aggressor making war continually to gain resources. This led to the development of the "provokable nice guy" strategy, a peace-maker until attacked, improved upon merely to win by occasional forgiveness even when attacked. Multiple players continue to gain wealth cooperating with each other while bleeding the constant aggressor. Such actions led in essence to the development of the Hanseatic League for trade and mutual defense following centuries of Viking depredation.[14]

Democratic peace theory[edit]

The democratic peace theory holds that democracies will never go to war with one another.

Theory of 'active peace'[edit]

Borrowing from the teachings of Norwegian theorist Johan Galtung, one of the pioneers of the field of Peace Research, on 'Positive Peace',[15] and on the writings of Maine Quaker Gray Cox, a consortium of theorists, activists, and practitioners in the experimental John Woolman College initiative have arrived at a theory of "active peace". This theory posits in part that peace is part of a triad, which also includes justice and wholeness (or well-being), an interpretation consonant with scriptural scholarly interpretations of the meaning of the early Hebrew word shalom. Furthermore, the consortium have integrated Galtung's teaching of the meanings of the terms peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, to also fit into a triadic and interdependent formulation or structure. Vermont Quaker John V. Wilmerding posits five stages of growth applicable to individuals, communities, and societies, whereby one transcends first the 'surface' awareness that most people have of these kinds of issues, emerging successively into acquiescence, pacifism, passive resistance, active resistance, and finally into active peace, dedicating themselves to peacemaking, peacekeeping, and/or peace building.[16]

Many peaces[edit]

Following Wolfgang Dietrich, Wolfgang Sützl[17] and the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies, some peace thinkers have abandoned any single and all-encompassing definition of peace. Rather, they promote the idea of many peaces. They argue that since no singular, correct definition of peace can exist, peace should be perceived as a plurality. This post-modern understanding of peace(s) was based on the philosophy of Jean Francois Lyotard. It served as a fundament for the more recent concept of trans-rational peace(s) and elicitive conflict transformation.

Trans-rational peaces[edit]

In 2008 Wolfgang Dietrich enlarged his earlier approach of the many peaces to the so-called five families of peace interpretations: the energetic, moral, modern, post-modern and trans-rational approach.[18] Trans-rationality unites the rational and mechanistic understanding of modern peace in a relational and culture-based manner with spiritual narratives and energetic interpretations.[19] The systemic understanding of trans-rational peaces advocates a client-centred method of conflict transformation, the so-called elicitive approach.[20]

Peace and conflict studies[edit]

Detail from Peace and Prosperity (1896), Elihu Vedder, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Peace and conflict studies is an academic field which identifies and analyses violent and nonviolent behaviours, as well as the structural mechanisms attending violent and non violent social conflicts. This is to better understand the processes leading to a more desirable human condition.[21] One variation, Peace studies (irenology), is an interdisciplinary effort aiming at the prevention, de-escalation, and solution of conflicts. This contrasts with war studies (polemology), directed at the efficient attainment of victory in conflicts. Disciplines involved may include political science, geography, economics, psychology, sociology, international relations, history, anthropology, religious studies, and gender studies, as well as a variety of others.

Measuring and ranking peace[edit]

Although peace is widely perceived as something intangible, various organizations have been making efforts to quantify and measure it. The Global Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace is a known effort to evaluate peacefulness in countries based on 22 indicators of the presence/absence of violence.[22] The last edition of the Index ranks 162 countries on their internal and external levels of peace. According to the 2013 Global Peace Index, Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world while Afghanistan is the least peaceful one.[23] The Failed State Index created by the Fund for Peace focuses on risk for instability or violence in 177 nations. This index measures how fragile a state is by 12 indicators and subindicators that evaluate aspects of politics, social economy, and military facets in countries. The 2012 Failed State Index reports that the most fragile nation is Somalia, and the least fragile one is Finland. University of Maryland publishes the Peace and Conflict Instability Ledger in order to measure peace. It grades 163 countries with 5 indicators, and pays the most attention to risk of political instability or armed conflict over a three-year period. The most recent ledger shows that the most peaceful country is Slovenia on the contrary Afghanistan is the most conflicted nation. Besides indicated above reports from the Institute for Economics and Peace, Fund for Peace, and University of Maryland, other organizations like the Economist Intelligence Unit and George Mason University release indexes that rank countries in terms of peacefulness.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, "Peace".
  2. ^ Benner, Jeff: Ancient Hebrew Research centre: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_peace.html
  3. ^ Benner, Jeff: Ancient Hebrew Research Center:http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_messiah.html>
  4. ^ R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao, editors; from section "The Gospel Of Sarvodaya, of the book The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahemadabad, India, Revised Edition, 1967.
  5. ^ Šmihula, Daniel (2013): The Use of Force in International Relations, p. 129, ISBN 978-80-224-1341-1.
  6. ^ "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  7. ^ http://files.rhodes.gethifi.com/Ottawa_September_2011_To_render_war_impossible.pdf
  8. ^ Cecil Rhodes's goal of Scholarships promoting peace highlighted - The Rhodes Scholarships
  9. ^ http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/materials/news/Fulbright_18May12_Arndt.pdf , http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/news/honouring-j-william-fulbright
  10. ^ File:War Abs.jpg
  11. ^ http://www.peacedome.org/PeaceDomeStory/history/1DomeHistory.html
  12. ^ einaudi.cornell.edu
  13. ^ Shy, O., 1996, Industrial Organization: Theory and Applications, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
  14. ^ from conversation with NCSU Professor of Sociology Kay M. Troost
  15. ^ Galtung, J: Peace by peaceful means: peace and conflict, development and civilization, page 32. Sage Publications, 1996.
  16. ^ Wilmerding, John. "The Theory of Active Peace". Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  17. ^ Wolfgang Dietrich/Wolfgang Sützl: A Call for Many Peaces; in: Dietrich, Wolfgang, Josefina Echavarría Alvarez, Norbert Koppensteiner eds.: Key Texts of Peace Studies; LIT Münster, Vienna, 2006
  18. ^ Wolfgang Dietrich: Interpretations of Peace in History and Culture; Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2012
  19. ^ Wolfgang Dietrich, Josefina Echavarría Alvarez, Gustavo Esteva, Daniela Ingruber, Norbert Koppensteiner eds.: The Palgrave International Handbook of Peace Studies. A Cultural Approach; Palgrave MacMillan London, 2011
  20. ^ John Paul Lederach: Preparing for Peace; Syracuse University Press, 1996
  21. ^ Dugan, 1989: 74
  22. ^ 'About the Global Peace Index' Vision of Humanity
  23. ^ '2013 GPI findings' Vision of Humanity


  • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr..
  • "Pennsylvania, A History of the Commonwealth," esp. pg. 109, edited by Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
  • Peaceful Societies, Alternatives to Violence and War Short profiles on 25 peaceful societies.
  • The Path to Peace, by Laure Paquette
  • Prefaces to Peace: a Symposium [i.e. anthology], Consisting of [works by] Wendell L. Willkie, Herbert Hoover and Hugh Gibson, Henry A. Wallace, [and] Sumner Welles. "Cooperatively published by Simon and Schuster; Doubleday, Doran, and Co.; Reynal & Hitchcock; [and] Columbia University Press", [194-]. xii, 437 p.

External links[edit]

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The Guardian

The Guardian
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:10:46 -0700

Muslim and Jewish leaders in the UK have called for followers of both faiths to "export peace" to Gaza and stamp out racism. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) issued a joint statement on Thursday ...

The Economist (blog)

The Economist (blog)
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:07:11 -0700

NEXT Monday representatives of Mali's government and northern Tuareg are due to meet in Algiers to initiate a new round of peace talks. International mediators have pushed for these talks since May, when Tuareg violently took power in their ethnic ...

Open Democracy

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:41:15 -0700

Congressional dynamics and public opinion are crucial since the roadmap to peace envisions both a public referendum on an eventual agreement and congressional action to legislate transitional justice mechanisms. Thus vocal opposition in Congress and ...

The Economist

The Economist
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:05:34 -0700

Mr Poroshenko knows this: he speaks of peace to international audiences, but sounds a different tune at home. When dissolving the Rada, he gave a speech full of patriotic exhortations and references to a fifth column. “Illegal armed formations can be ...

Public Radio International

Huffington Post
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:07:30 -0700

They have failed because neither side has been serious yet about making "painful compromises for peace." Instead, we have been witness to years of posturing and petty politics. This has to end in order for a meaningful peace agreement to be achieved to ...

The Independent

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:20:25 -0700

Israel and Gaza's ruling Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended ceasefire after seven weeks of fighting — an uneasy deal that halts the deadliest war the sides have fought in years, with more than 2,200 killed, but puts off the most difficult issues.

The Guardian

The Guardian
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:12:36 -0700

People living in areas where republican and loyalist violence was at its most intense in Northern Ireland are the socio-economic losers of the peace process, according to new research published ahead of the 20th anniversary this week of the Provisional ...

Huffington Post

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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:15:00 -0700

What does peace look like to you? That's the question we posed to millions of creatives on EyeEm, a community for photo sharing and discovery. The results were overwhelming with over 13,000 original submissions -- proving once and for all that peace ...

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