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Negative versus Positive Peace

Negative versus Positive Peace in Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia

Peace Research today distinguishes between positive and negative peace. These concepts were introduced by Johan Galtung (Galtung, 1969, 1975, 1980; Webel & Galtung, 2007) and signify on distinctions regarding the quality of peace. Negative peace is thus simply defined as the "absence of violence" (Galtung, 1969, p.183), whereas positive peace is defined as entailing "social justice" (p.183) and cooperative structures. It is generally believed that positive peace is more sustainable than negative peace, as it is implicitly supported by democratic processes and characterized by the absence of structural violence (Galtung, 1969, p.189).

The notions of negative and positive peace do not just refer to the domestic political situation of a country but can also be applied to regional inter-national contexts. However, as Kacowicz (1997, p.372) has pointed out, domestic and international peace are frequently closely related and contribute to a complex political economy that frequently eludes easy analysis. Accordingly, this chapter will analyze the complex political and economic landscape that defines the quality of peace in Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia.

Scholarly discussions about the quality of peace in West Africa frequently reference two major theses that structure political and social analyses. The first one is the so called "democracy-peace thesis" (Doucouliagos & Uluba?o?lu, 2008; Henderson, 2009; Mehler, 2009), which holds that democracy aids (positive) peace, which also in an underlying assumption in Galtung's seminal texts. The second thesis, which is frequently mentioned in discussions about peace, refers to the nexus of economic growth and peace. While it is a tenet of liberal democracies, that democracy ensures economic growth and in turn, economic growth supports democratic structures, several scholars have pointed out that with regard to...

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Negative versus Positive Peace. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:13, May 22, 2024, from