Defining Peacebuilding

InterChange defines Peacebuilding as: a broad, comprehensive range of activities and processes at all stages of the conflict cycle. Peacebuilding addresses the causes of conflict, not just the conflict behaviour, and is also concerned with processing the wounds of the past. The aim of peacebuilding is to promote human security and transform violent conflict toward sustainable peaceful relationships, capacities and structures.

To further define our terms:

Conflict is a relationship between two or more parties who have, or think they have, incompatible goals or positions. Conflict is not necessarily negative, and in fact can be a creative catalyst for change.

Violence is not just direct violence—the visible action of a physically violent actor. It can be seen as actions, words, attitudes, structures or systems that cause physical, psychological, social or environmental damage and/or prevent people reaching their full human potential.

Peace is not just negative peace– the absence of direct violence, but also includes positive peace– the absence of all forms of violence and the presence of justice and other conditions for the fulfillment of human potential.

Peacebuilding may involve a multiplicity of actors –community, academics, religious leaders, and policy makers– both within and outside the immediate conflict zone. Our particular focus is the actors and activities based at the level of the individual, the family, the group, the neighbourhood and the community.

Peacebuilding includes the building and/or transformation of institutions; the protection of human rights; social reconstruction; the promotion and protection of physical and mental health; the promotion and protection of education at a wide variety of levels; fair and effective governance; economic and food security; protection of the environment; the full participation of women; access to information; and ongoing processes and capacities that allow conflicts to be resolved without violence.

To be effective, peacebuilding requires careful and participatory planning, informed by research and analysis that takes place before, during and after the process; coordination among various efforts; substantial and sustained commitment by a range of peacebuilding actors, as well as nurturing and care for those participating in the process.

It is important to note that this is a living definition that is subject to change, as it must be rooted to practice and research.