Dear Deeply Readers,

Welcome to the archives of Peacebuilding Deeply. While we paused regular publication of the site on September 1, 2018, we are happy to serve as an ongoing public resource on global peace and security. We hope you’ll enjoy the reporting and analysis that was produced by our dedicated community of editors and contributors.

We continue to produce events and special projects while we explore where the on-site journalism goes next. If you’d like to reach us with feedback or ideas for collaboration you can do so at [email protected].

Defining Peace

There is no single definition of peace and no single way to quantify security or stability. To help readers navigate the complex and nuanced world of peace and security, Peacebuilding Deeply has compiled a list of the most commonly used terms, bringing together definitions and insights from some of the leading organizations, practitioners and experts working on these issues.


United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, 2007: “A range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development.”

Alliance for Peacebuilding: “Peacebuilding is an elastic term, encompassing a wide range of efforts by diverse actors in government and civil society at the community, national and international levels to address the immediate impacts and root causes of conflict before, during and after violent conflict occurs.”

Interpeace: “Peacebuilding is about bringing together the different actors that are engaged in the rebuilding of a country. People from inside and outside a conflict-affected country need to work together to understand their different views, define priorities. This will enable a better alignment of national policymaking, external assistance and local priorities. We strongly believe that peacebuilding is about deep, long-term transformations.”

Non-State Actors

Geneva Call: “The term armed non-state actors (ANSAs) encompasses a variety of entities. Geneva Call focuses on organized armed entities that are involved in armed conflict, which are primarily motivated by political goals and which operate outside state control, thereby lacking legal capacity to become party to relevant international treaties. These include armed groups, national liberation movements and de facto governing authorities.”

Dictionary of Social Sciences (2002): “Non-state actors are entities that participate or act in international relations, with sufficient power to influence and cause change without any affiliation to established institutions of a state. These individuals or organizations have significant political, economic or social influence without being allied to any particular country or state.”

Claudia Hofmann, a visiting scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University: “Generally speaking, non-state armed groups are defined as distinctive organizations that are (i) willing and capable to use violence for pursuing their objectives and (ii) not integrated into formalized state institutions such as regular armies, presidential guards, police or special forces. They, therefore, (iii) possess a certain degree of autonomy with regard to politics, military operations, resources and infrastructure. “

Faith-Based Organizations

United Nations: Used “to reference faith-based or faith-inspired nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), with legal standing, which are working to advocate for and/or deliver development and humanitarian services whether nationally, regionally or internationally (or indeed at all those levels).”

Elizabeth Ferris, International Review of the Red Cross: “While there is no generally accepted definition of faith-based organizations, they are characterized by having one or more of the following: affiliation with a religious body; a mission statement with explicit reference to religious values; financial support from religious sources; and/or a governance structure where selection of board members or staff is based on religious beliefs or affiliation and/or decision-making processes based on religious values.”


International Center for Transitional Justice: “Reconciliation is a complex set of processes that involve building or rebuilding relationships, often in the aftermath of massive and widespread human rights violations. It can occur at the individual, interpersonal, sociopolitical and institutional levels and be described as ‘thin’ if it is based on coexistence with little or no trust, respect and shared values, or ‘thick’ if it is based on the restoration of dignity, reversing structural causes of marginalization and discrimination, and restoring victims to their position as rights bearers and citizens.”

Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA): “A process through which a society moves from a divided past to a shared future.”


United Nations: “A unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.”

We’ll keep updating this list as we develop our coverage of global peace and security issues. To submit your definitions, email [email protected]

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