Learn why understanding the concept of peace from both a negative peace and positive peace perspective is crucial for peacebuilders.

Defining the Concept of Peace: Positive and Negative Peace

There are two common conceptions of peace — Negative Peace, or actual peace, and Positive Peace.

What is Negative Peace?

IEP’s definition of Negative Peace is understood as ‘the absence of violence or fear of violence — an intuitive definition that many agree with, and one which enables us to measure peace more easily.

Measures of Negative Peace are the foundation of the IEP’s flagship product, the Global Peace Index.

However, while the Global Peace Index tells us how peaceful a country is, it doesn’t tell us what or where we should be investing in to strengthen or maintain levels of peace.

This leads us to Positive Peace, derived from the data contained within the Global Peace Index. Positive Peace provides a framework to understand and address the many complex challenges the world faces.

What is Positive Peace?

Positive Peace is defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

It provides a framework to understand and then address the multiple and complex challenges the world faces. Positive Peace is transformational in that it is a cross-cutting factor for progress, making it easier for businesses to sell, entrepreneurs and scientists to innovate, individuals to produce, and governments to effectively regulate.

Difference between Negative and Positive Peace

In addition to the absence of violence, Positive Peace is also associated with many other social characteristics that are considered desirable, including better economic outcomes, measures of well-being, levels of inclusiveness and environmental performance.

A parallel can be drawn with medical science; the study of pathology has led to numerous breakthroughs in our understanding of how to treat and cure disease.

However, it was only when medical science turned its focus to the study of healthy human beings that we understood what we needed to do to stay healthy. This could only be learned by studying what was working.

Are you interested in learning more about peace? Sign up for the free, online Positive Peace Academy



Vision of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.