The Pillars of Peace

What factors make one society more peaceful than another? How can positive peace levels be measured?

The Institute for Economics and Peace recently published a report titled 'The Pillars of Peace', which provides a precise definition of the structures required to build a peaceful society, understanding peace as a state of social justice beyond a mere absence of violence.

It is these 8 pillars, 8 interdependent elements describing the optimal environment for peace to flourish:  a well-functioning government (effective and close to the people), a sound business environment, an equitable distribution of resources, an acceptance of the rights of others, good relations with neighbours (individual, communities and nation states), free-flow of information, a high level of human capital, and low levels of corruption.

The report demonstrates how each of these factors has an impact on the others; they are interdependent, in such a way that the strength or fragility of each factor effects whether the other factors become stronger or weaker. For example, there is no doubt that the levels of corruption in a society are closely tied to the correct functioning of the government and the free-flow of information.

The study also demonstrates the association between resilience – the human capacity to overcome extreme situations and to adapt- and peace. Therefore, it is true to say that countries with higher levels of peace tend to be more resilient to external shocks, whether they are economic, geopolitical or natural disasters. Two recent examples of this can be seen in the respective recoveries in Iceland and Japan, one after the financial crisis and the other following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.