AskDefine | Define peacemaking

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The act of reconciling two people or groups who disagree.

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Extensive Definition

Peacemaking is a form of conflict resolution which focuses on establishing equal power relationships that will be robust enough to forestall future conflict, and establishing some means of agreeing on ethical decisions within a community that has previously had conflict. When applied in criminal justice matters it is usually called transformative justice. When applied to matters that do not disrupt the community as a whole, it may be called mindful mediation.
The term peacemaking however is reserved for large, systemic, often factional conflicts in which no member of the community can avoid involvement, and in which no faction or segment can claim to be completely innocent of the problems. For instance, a post-genocide situation, or extreme oppression such as apartheid.
The process of peacemaking is distinct from the rationale of pacifism or the use of non-violent protest or civil disobedience techniques, though they are often practiced by the same people. Indeed, those who master the nonviolent techniques under extreme violent pressure, and who lead others in such resistance, have demonstrated the rare capacity not to react to violent provocation in kind, and the difficult skill of keeping a group of people suffering from violent oppression, coordinated and in good order through such experience.
Given that, and a track record of not advocating violent responses, it is these leaders who are usually most qualified for peacemaking when future conflict breaks out between the previously warring sides.
Mohandas Gandhi is widely recognized as an important theorist of the peacemaking strategy. He noted in particular that leaders who had been successful at violent strategies were counter-productive in peace time, simply because these strategies now had to be abandoned. But if a movement had adulated and emulated these people, it was unlikely ever to be able to make permanent peace even with those factions it had conquered or dominated, simply because the leaders lacked the skills and had become leaders in part for their suppression of the other side. Accordingly, even if a movement benefitted from violent action, and even if such action was extremely effective in ending some other oppression, no movement that sought long-term peace could safely hold up these acts or persons as a moral example or advise emulating either. Gandhi's views have influenced modern ethicists in forming a critique of terrorism, in which even those who support the goals must decry the methods and avoid making, for instance, a suicide bomber into a hero.
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