Dictionary of Peace



Just as any other academic field, peace studies works with a series of specific words and concepts. Bellow you can browse through a few of these.

Source: A Glossary of Terms and Concepts in Peace ad Conflict Studies





The physical presence of civilians, sometimes foreign volunteers, with the aim of protecting activists from violent attacks or intimidation and encouragin their continued activities. The use of accompaniment, a method of non-violent struggle, carries with it the possibility that politically motivated violence.



From the Sanskrit for ‘non-harm’, the principled, often religious, renunciation of physical or mental violence against the self, others, animals, and nature. This ideal originates within Jainism, a reforming sect of Hinduism and a faith prominent in the region of India where Mohandas K. Gandhi grew to adulthood. Ahimsa is commonly translated into English as ‘nonviolence’, but in the original Sanskrit it conveys a more strict and comprehensive meaning that encompasses non-injury to all aspects and forms of life.



A mechanism for resolving conflicts whereby the disputants identify their grievances and demands, fix a procedural process, and willingly submit the decision of outcomes, which are to be final and binding, to an external entity. The contending parties often select the majority of the members of the third party, which normally takes the form of a tribunal.

Civil Society


A sphere of society distinct and independent from the state system, the means of economic production, and the household. This collective realm, or ‘public space’, includes networks of institutions through which citizens voluntarily represent themselves in cultural, ideological, and political senses. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are often considered the backbone of civil society, yet informal social institutions, professional associations, and interest groups constitute further examples.



From the Latin for ‘to clash or engage in a fight’, a confrontation between one or more parties aspiring towards incompatible or competitive means or ends.

Conflict Management


Interventionist efforts towards preventing the escalation and negative effects, especially violent ones, of ongoing conflicts.


Conflict Prevention


The anticipation of conflict that seeks to redress causal grievances to avoid the escalation of violent forms of conflict engagement or to curtail the re-occurrence of violent exchanges or some combination of these elements.


Conflict Resolution


A variety of approaches aimed at resolving conflicts through the constructive solving of problems distinct from the management or transformation of conflict. Conflict resolution is multifaceted in that it refers to a process, a result, and an identified field of academic study as well as an activity in which persons and communities engage every day without ever using the term.

Conflict Transformation


Changes in all, any, or some combination of the following matters regarding a conflict: the general context or framing of the situation, the contending parties, the issues at stake, the processes or procedures governing the predicament, or the structures affecting any of the aforementioned.



Social, historical, and cultural constructions and conditioning indicating acceptable and preferable forms of behaviour and attitudes for men and women.



A voluntary, informal, non-binding process undertaken with an external party that fosters the settlement of differences or demands between directly invested parties.




Communication, usually governed by pre-established procedures, between representatives of parties involved in a conflict or dispute. As a technique in the management and resolution of conflict, negotiation is conducted on various grounds: to identify common interests and develop unilateral or multilateral initiatives in pursuit of objectives, to de-escalate a conflict situation, or to formulate mutually satisfactory solutions towards resolution of a given conflict.



A holistic belief in and practice of abstaining from violent acts. Such belief systems may stem from various religions and ethical codes, with the range of understandings varying equally.



A doctrine and historical school of thought that rejects war as the means of resolving conflict.



Policies, programs, and associated efforts to restore stability and the effectiveness of social, political, and economic institutions and structures in the wake of a war or some other debilitating or catastrophic event. Peace building generally aims to create and ensure the conditions for ‘negative peace’, the mere absence of violent conflict engagement, and for ‘positive peace’, a more comprehensive understanding related to the institutionalisation of justice and freedom.



A Gandhian conception to denote active non-violent resistance to injustice, denote active non-violent resistance to injustice, oppression, and exploitation. Deriving from two Sanskrit roots, Deriving from two Sanskrit roots, satya means truth but also implies love and firmness, while agraha, often translated as ‘insistence on’, or ‘pursuit of’, serves as a synonym for force. serves as a synonym for force.



An endogenous philosophical perspective of South African peoples that connotes a collective responsibility among human beings to distribute naturally and spiritually the life force for common benefit. Literally translated, ubuntumeans ‘collective personhood’. Its meaning is captured by the Nguni proverb ‘umuntu ngu- muntu ngabantu’ (I am because we are).

Values and Norms


Values: characteristics of a person, object, behaviour, experience, or concept that imply intrinsic excellence, esteem, worth, or desirability. They are essentially preferences governed by individual choice, which, admittedly, is influenced by external factors.




2006-2010 © ACTIVE FOR PEACE
VISITADR: Peace House, Kranvn 4B, POSTADRESSE: Postboks 19, N-4951 RISØR, TEL: 37 15 39 00 MOB: 95 23 81 99 FAX: 37 15 43 58