Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

by joanfallon on December 7, 2010

Professor Robert C. Johansen explains the difference between these two concepts, which are often used interchangeably.

Peace studies is a broad field that includes conflict resolution as a subfield. The former examines causes of armed conflicts; how to prevent them before they start; how to contain, limit, and end violence if it begins; and how to build sustainable peace and justice after bringing violence to an end. In addition, peace studies examines structural violence that shortens life expectancy, inflicts injustice especially on the weak and poor, and imposes life-denying political, economic, social, or religious structures on people.

Conflict resolution focuses more narrowly on the dynamics of conflicts and how to resolve them. Because “resolution” emphases stopping conflict rather than looking deeply at its causes, most peace researchers prefer to talk about conflict transformation. The latter emphases the context for a conflict and what caused it to arise, and then moves on to encourage adversaries to imagine a peaceful future together – a future that usually  includes transformed relationships that would make a peaceful and cooperative future more likely and sustainable.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: