Yes, I think there can be “more” world peace. The emphasis is of course on “more” because peace is never absolute. Conflict is a part of human life and human nature. The realistic goal is to be able to transform conflict situations peacefully and build cultures of peace that will reduce the scale and frequency of human conflicts. In Peace Studies, we talk about levels of global peacefulness and “peacelessness.”

The Institute for Economics and Peace, a policy think-tank, issues an annual Global Peace Index (GPI) that uses a variety of indicators to score and rank peacefulness in 162 countries around the world. In its latest report, the Institute stated that while the overall number of wars being waged around the world is declining, the world has become much less peaceful. Although overall conflicts between nations are becoming less frequent, global peacefulness has been falling for the past seven years. Over 500 million people currently live in countries at risk for further declines in peacefulness in the short-term. So, how can wars and peace decline at the same time? How can we have fewer wars, yet less peace?
This is because large-scale armed conflicts are longer the preserve of national armies and sovereign powers. Non-state actors increasing have the capacity to engage in armed conflict thereby reducing overall peacefulness around the world. This takes the forms of domestic terrorism, insurgencies, rebellions, revolts and uprisings. We have fewer wars and less peace today because conflict has become democratized.
Democratic civic action and peace advocacy can also be the antidote. With fewer wars, we can have more world peace. But this requires concerted citizen action to put pressure on governments to avoid wars and to build cultures of peace and tolerance within our respective communities. The civil rights movement of the 1960s, the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1970s and the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s and ‘90s, provide the clearest examples of the power of ordinary citizens to bring about a more just and peaceful world.

This week’s answer is provided by Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh, the director of McMaster’s Centre for Peace Studies. Dr. Ibhawoh’s research focuses on global human rights, peace and conflict studies, and legal and imperial history. He is currently studying global truth and reconciliation commissions.