Constructing Defences of Peace: Peace Education and the Media

By Bashar, Iftekharul | Journal of Development Communication, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Constructing Defences of Peace: Peace Education and the Media


Bashar, Iftekharul, Journal of Development Communication


Violent conflict is a major destructive force that can impede development. Physical violence and armed conflict affect not only the infrastructure but also the minds of people involved in violence. The trauma of large-scale violent conflict especially the protracted ones takes generations to heal. Structural violence affects the society in the long run, and becomes an obstacle for the individuals to live with dignity and to reach their full potentials. But the issue of conflict itself remains inadequately addressed especially in the communication discourses. Though conflict has various and debatable roots: from scarcity of and competition over resources, to lack of trust and understanding. In a globalised world like this, conflicts are often caused or worsened by the failure of communication. Therefore, media should play a new and innovative role so that the defences of peace can be constructed.

Peace is a social goal to be pursued both at individual level and community level. The Preamble of the Constitution of the UNESCO says: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." To attain durable peace it is necessary to help the individuals and the communities through enhancing their understanding of peace. Since the media has a profound influence on human mind it is important to understand and utilise this influence for building peaceful societies.

This paper aims to develop a rationale for the use of media in communicating peace. The paper argues that to build effective social safeguards against violent conflicts, or to manage conflicts effectively, it is important to promote peace education through media. The paper attempts firstly: to discuss the concept of peace and peace education from theoretical perspective, and secondly: to discuss the idea of communicating peace through peace education using the media.

Peace: A Conceptual Framework

Peace is a term that most commonly refers to an absence of hostility and violence, but which also represents a larger concept wherein there are healthy or newly-healed interpersonal or international relationships, safety in matters of social or economic welfare, the acknowledgment of equality and fairness in political relationships and, in world matters, peacetime; a state of being absent of any war or conflict. Reflection on the nature of peace is also bound up with considerations of the causes for its absence or loss. Among these potential causes are: insecurity, social injustice, economic inequality, political and religious radicalism, and acute racism and nationalism. Peace in its most positive aspects embraces ideas of justice, global sustainability and eradication of structure that promote insecurity: poverty, hunger, malnutrition and lack of access to resources.

To understand peace one must understand what it is not. Therefore, it is important to understand both physical structural violence as well. Physical violence is the exertion of physical force so as to kill, injure or abuse, such as murder or forceful human destruction of property or injury to persons, usually intentional, and forceful verbal and emotional abuse that harms others.

Structural violence, a term which was first used in the 1960s and which has commonly been ascribed to Johan Galtung, denotes a form of violence which corresponds with the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution kills people slowly by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. Institutionalised elitism, ethnocentrism, classism, racism, sexism, ultra nationalism are just some examples of structural violence. Life spans are reduced when people are socially dominated, politically oppressed, or economically exploited. Structural violence and direct violence are highly interdependent. Structural violence inevitably produces conflict and often direct violence, including family violence, racial violence, hate crimes, terrorism, genocide, and war. …

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Constructing Defences of Peace: Peace Education and the Media
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