Image by Hadley Jin


Image by Timon Studler


Using troops to prevent warring factions to resume fighting, as has been done primarily by the UN. 



Intervening to stop or to prevent fighting in contemporary situations.

Image by Zeyn Afuang


Attempting to eliminate poverty, discrimination, corruption, suffering, and other possible causes of violence, hoping that this will lead to sustainable peace. 

In a groundbreaking paper in 1975, Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung coined the term "peacebuilding" in his pioneering work "Three Approaches to Peace: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, and Peacebuilding." He defined these approaches as follows:

Using randomized controlled trials, the Peace Research Institute Oslo has determined that UN Peacekeeping Operations have been cost-effective. Hopefully, the UN will continue and expand these operations, which clearly contribute to world peace.


Much of the work that has been done to reduce armed conflict has been in the nature of peacemaking. Peacemakers engage in wide variety of activities, from resolving conflicts to helping to design truces and peace treaties to monitoring elections. Clearly, interventions of this type can reduce armed conflict if they are well done. Most of the successes on Dr. Short’s list of 101 success stories have involved peacemaking.  As more evidence as to where and how peacemaking initiatives can be most effective, they have a potential for contributing much more to reducing political violence.


How and even whether peacebuilding can contribute to reducing organized violence is less certain. Much peacebuilding has the objective of using American or Western European societies as a model toward which to move less developed states. Even if that were appropriate, the task of changing political, economic, and the social conditions in fragile states is daunting. US government has spent untold billions of dollars in attempts to establish effective governments in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq with little to show for it. 

Perhaps because so much time, possibly a generation or two, is required for peacebuilding to demonstrate results, there is little evidence of its effectiveness. 


Warfare has disastrous economic effects. Reducing political violence in the short term could increase financial resources to devote to longer-term projects. It may be that allocating more resources to the approaches that have demonstrated that they can reduce violence in the short term would be a better strategy than investing in efforts to establish sustainable peace, which may take decades, if ever, to be effective.