Nepal’s earthquake and Peace

The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that triggered avalanches on Mount Everest has claimed over 8,000 lives and left thousands more injured and without shelter.  On Tuesday, another earthquake shook the tiny Himalayan country, and a further 80 people are feared dead.

As makeshift hospitals and shelters have been set up around the country, international aid organisations from around the world have arrived amid rising food and water shortages.

Nepal is not entirely a peaceful nation, it is also not incredibly un-peaceful. Nepal is slightly above average, ranking 76th of 162 nations on the 2014 Global Peace Index. With the region of South Asia, Nepal is the second most peaceful country behind Bhutan.

Natural disasters, like many other types of external shocks, can trigger outbreaks of violence and conflict. Countries with strong levels of “positive peace,” that is the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies, tend to be more resilient to external shocks. Currently, Nepal has relatively weak positive peace foundations, however remains peaceful enough to withstand an outbreak of violence.

There are eight key factors of positive peace, identified by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which operate as a mutually reinforcing system. They are: a sound business environment, a well-functioning government, low levels of corruption, high levels of human-capital, equitable distribution of resources, good relations with neighbours, acceptance of the rights of others and the free flow of information.

As Nepal comes together to rebuild, it should focus on not just rectifying structures and buildings, but the very foundations peace throughout the country. 

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