The 2017 Positive Peace Conference brought together leading peace representatives to discuss opportunities and challenges for strengthening Positive Peace.

Recap of the 2017 Positive Peace Conference

On October 31st, 2017, over 100 participants met for the second Positive Peace Conference at Stanford University to discuss Positive Peace work in various fields.

The conference was co-hosted by the Institute for Economics & Peace, the Stanley Foundation, the Stanford Center for Latin American Studies, and the Stanford Humanities Center.

The conference explored Positive Peace through the lenses of research, policy and practice, and examined peace systems currently operating in our communities and countries.

This year the conference highlighted two real world applications in examining how both the free flow of information and corruption influence peace. The conference featured 30 international speakers who shared their perspective on how to better connect research, policy and practice.

Delegates included media, peacebuilders, academics and experts from international NGOs, government and think tanks.

Opening Remarks


  • Alberto Diaz-Cayeros: Director, Center for Latin American Studies
  • Jay-Ayla Quest, Program Officer, Mass Violence and Atrocities, Stanley Foundation
  • Michelle Breslauer, Director, Americas Program, Institute for Economics and Peace

Keynote: Steve Killelea

As the keynote speaker, Steve Killelea shared IEP’s journey in bringing about a paradigm shift in the way the world views peace and in raising awareness of the importance of Positive Peace as opposed to Negative Peace (defined as the absence of violence).

Killelea described the Positive Peace Report as the only empirical approach to Positive Peace in the world.

The framework contained within the report, when combined with systems thinking, provides peacebuilders with the opportunity to break away from the more traditional linear thinking model that focuses on individual cause and effect events and instead emphasizes the importance of a whole-of-system approach. His comments laid the foundation for the conference

Panel: Systems Approaches

  • Pushpa Iyer, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Conflict Studies
  • Dr. David Hammond, Senior Research Fellow at IEP
  • Tom Woodhouse, Emeritus Professor, University of Bradford
  • Jenny Vaughan, Program Director, Peace & Governance, Mercy Corps
  • Mark Nelson, Co-Director, Stanford Peace Innovation Lab

Keynote: Daniel P. Brown

Director, The Centre for Integrative Psychotherapy; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School.

Daniel Brown approached the conference theme from a unique perspective. He spoke about the field of positive psychology, which asks the questions: What makes life worthwhile? What constitutes the flourishing individual?

Unfortunately, research on negative states of mind outnumbers research on positive states at a ratio of 17:1.

The Institute for Economics & Peace realised the importance of shifting from studying negative to Positive Peace, just as Buddhist psychology stresses something similar; the techniques for working with negative states of mind and positive states of mind complement each other, but do not reduce to each other

Panel: Free Flow of Information

  • Devon Terrill, Media Program officer, The Stanley Foundation
  • Mark leon Goldberg, Editor, UN Dispatch
  • Anna Therese Day, Independent Reporter and Social Media Researcher
  • Obi Anyadike, Editor-at-Large, IRIN

Panel on Corruption

  • Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Director, Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford University
  • Francis Fukuyama, Senior Fellow, FSI and Director, FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of law
  • Mark Schneider, Senior Advisor, Americas Program and Human Rights Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Ulysses Smith, President & CEO, Telos Governance Advisers LLC

Panel: Prevention and Resilience

  • Harold Trinkunas, Deputy Director and Senior Research Scholar, Center for International Security and Cooperation at FSI, Stanford University
  • Andrei Serbin Pont, Regional Coordinator of Economic and Social Research
  • Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Director, Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford University
  • Lothar Rast, Director of Project, GIZ – German Agency for International Cooperation
  • Madeline Rose, Global Policy Lead, Mercy Corps

Panel: Leveraging Networks

  • Summer Lewis, Coordinator, Rotary-IEP Partnership
  • Steve Brown, Rotary Foundation Trustee 2010-2014, La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, California, USA
  • Bennett Freeman, Chair, Global Witness Advisory Board; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
  • Carrie DuLaney, Investments Manager, Humanity United
  • Jessica Murrey, Co-creator of Battle for Humanity, Search for Common Ground



  • Charles “Chic” Dambach, CEO, Operation Respect
  • Ellen Friedman, Executive Director, Compton Foundation
  • Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman for Institute for Economics and Peace

The conference concluded with Charles “Chic” Dambach’s observations regarding the cost of war, its adverse economic impacts and how the work of those present underscores the vitality of our societies.

Ellen Friedman noted the gains made towards Positive Peace since the first conference two years ago.

She acknowledged one of the challenges for the sector is to articulate a compelling vision that connects all stakeholders. Friedman identified the need to organize donors and the tendency of the few existing donors to operate in silos.

As the final speaker, Steve Killelea highlighted the need to address corruption, stating that corruption undermines every one of the SDG goals.