The problem of peace: Understanding the ‘liberal peace’

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To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace. Pope John Paul II, 1981 Pax Invictis Virtue runs amok. Attributed to G K Chesterton Introduction What is peace? This essay examines the genealogy of the ‘problem of peace’. This is not as commonly thought caused by the contestation of power by sovereign actors (Carter, 1936, p. xi) but rather by the absence of debate on the conceptualisation of peace, and the consequence of assuming it is a negative epistemology that can never fully be achieved (Rasmussen, 2003, p. 174). Instead, it is generally assumed that the ‘liberal peace’ is acceptable to all. This is essentially what Mandelbaum and others have called the combination of peace, democracy and free markets (Mandelbaum, 2002, p. 6; Duffield, 2001, p. 11; Paris, 2004). These assumptions are also prevalent in most policy documents associated with peace and security issues (United Nations, 2004; International Development Research Centre 2001). The liberal peace is assumed to be unproblematic in its internal structure, and in its acceptance in post-conflict zones, though its methodological application may be far from smooth (Paris, 2004, p. 18–20). Yet, the liberal peace's main components – democratisation, the rule of law, human rights, free and globalized markets, and neo-liberal development – are increasingly being critiqued from several different perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobalization and Challenges to Building Peace
PublisherAnthem Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781843313816
ISBN (Print)9781843312871
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2007 Ashok Swain, Ramses Amer and Joakim Öjendal.


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