Eduardo Ruman (In Memoriam)
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Serviços Humanitários / 29/08/2020


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Before understanding what peace is, it is important to understand that there are different types of violence. Here we will explore three main types, noting, however, that the classification is not limited to just these.

1) Direct Violence

This is the most visible type of violence and, consequently, the best known. Direct violence is characterized by any act that aims to cause physical harm to someone or something. Because of this, it manifests itself through human behavior and there is always an actor to be held responsible for the action. Thus, acts can range a slap or a punch, which are individual acts of direct violence, to war, which is the maximum expression of direct violence collectively.

2) Structural Violence

This is a type of indirect violence in which there is not just one identifiable actor who causes this form of violence. There is no single concrete responsible person who can be held responsible for the consequences, even if the final result generates deaths or physical and psychological suffering.

What happens is that, in this case, violence presents itself through the constitution and structure of the socioeconomic system. The unequal disposition of this power in society generates a poor distribution in the sharing of resources, perpetuates poverty, hunger and hinders development. The poor distribution of power also causes a large discrepancy in life opportunities.

What happens is that the economic system sometimes fails to promote the inclusion of individuals in the social structure. Many people, especially those who have less than $ 2 a day to survive, do not have access to education, health and basic food, transportation systems and integration with consumer markets. The violence promoted against these individuals is hunger, misery and lack of access to resources. It is static and constant, much more subtle and rooted in society. This means that it is often seen as normal or as a natural part of the system.

3) Cultural Violence

Of all the violence, the cultural one is considered the most subtle, indirect and lasting over time. It is born in the symbolic sphere, in the beliefs and customs of human beings. Violence is not in the beliefs and customs themselves, but in the way they are used to justify or legitimize forms of violence, without it appearing to be wrong. This violence is based on cultural, ethnic and gender differences and can manifest itself through art, religion, ideology, languages ​​and science.

We can cite as an example prejudice and racial violence, which use differences in skin color to justify wage discrepancies, criminalization and even persecution of groups. The Ku Klux Klan, a racist organization born in the southern United States in the late 19th century, is an embodiment of this cultural violence. The group intimidated and attacked blacks freed slavery, in defense of the cultural “white supremacy” in the country.

Also read: does slavery still exist in Brazil?


The expansion of the concepts of violence was thought by the theorist Johan Galtung. He points out that direct violence is the only one visible to the eye, since it makes use of violent actions. However, it is like the tip of an iceberg: if we stop to analyze what causes direct violence, we will see that there are many factors behind these violent actions.

As an example, we can use the “Holy Wars”, like the Crusades. They were wars based on religious differences. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church organized military expeditions, using violence, with the aim of promoting the expansion of its religion and regaining the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, which was under Muslim rule. In this sense, cultural disparity escalated into conflict as it was used to legitimize the use of direct violence to impose itself as a superior.


The first mental association we make when talking about peace is: peace is the opposite of war. In this case, peace is seen by what it denies: violence and war. The idea of ​​negative peace starts this perspective that peace is a negative concept, as it is understood as the mere absence of direct violence.

The concept of peace was expanded in 1969 by theorist Johan Galtung. He defends the so-called positive peace. Okay, but what is that? Positive peace is the understanding of peace as something that goes beyond the mere absence of direct violence, since it also seeks structural peace. Structural peace would aim to eradicate the inequalities generated by the organization of the socio-economic system, to extinguish cultural violence and to integrate society both at the individual and international levels.

However, peace is not an easy task, a series of actions are needed that act together, such as public policies that seek to reduce poverty and hunger, expand access to quality education, improve basic sanitation conditions and access to Cheers.


In certain cases of conflict, more than public policies are needed, this is peace interventions come in. These are international operations aimed at restoring and developing conditions of peace in a given location. For this, there are three types of operations, as we will see below.

1) Peacemaking

It is a formal diplomatic action that takes place by peaceful means, that is, it involves rounds of negotiations involving both parties to the conflict; mediation using a third party outside and impartial to the conflict to reconcile and bring the two parties together; and the signing of agreements and treaties to seal the end of the clashes and their conditions and to restore peace between the parties in conflict.

This action, in general, works more with the perspective of negative peace, since its main objective is that the manifestations of direct violence are contained. However, the real causes of the conflict, such as the redistribution of power, are not always addressed. This can limit the effectiveness of the action and make some agreements temporary, since direct violence is just the tip of the iceberg.

An example was the Treaty of Versailles (1919): a peace treaty between European powers that determined the end of the First World War. The problem was that Germany was not satisfied with the terms of the agreement, considering it as an imposition. In it, it was established that the size of its armed forces would be limited, that the country should pay compensation for the damages caused by the war, that it would lose parts of its border territory and all its colonies.

The strong impositions of the treaty made the nation feel unfair and humiliated, in addition to providing few means for the country to rebuild itself the devastation caused by the war. Faced with dissatisfaction with the terms and a context of political, social and economic crisis, Nazism was sown in Germany in 1920. Thus, in 1933 the Third Reich (Third Empire) began and Nazism was consolidated in power with the appointment of Adolf Hitler to the post of Chancellor (Prime Minister).

In addition to other ideas, the ruler propagated an ultra-nationalist discourse and defended the creation of a “vital space” for Germany. To achieve the goal of creating a German Empire, Hitler established a territorial expansion campaign that culminated in the outbreak of World War II. Ultimately, the peace treaty failed to adequately reconcile power between the parties, leaving an extremely dissatisfied, weakened side with high penalties.

2) Peacekeeping

It is configured as an armed intervention force with the aim of separating conflicting parties and preserving peace. This action freezes the conflict, but maintains its status quo, since there is no dialogue or interaction between the actors. The bias of this operation is focused on negative peace, as it prevents integration between the parties and removes the conflict so that the direct violence ceases. However, this again does not solve the problem at its root.

The UN peacekeeping operation in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is an example of peacekeeping. There is an ethnic dispute on the island involving two conflicting parties: the Greek Cypriots to the south (majority) and the Turkish Cypriots to the north (minority).

In 1964, after a long history of conflict on the island and a culture of mutual hatred among the peoples, a UN peacekeeping force, acting under a warrant, established itself in a strip in the middle of the island (with variable width, but with a medium equivalent to a street), which became known as the “Green Line”. The line is considered the official border between people in conflict, has patrolling and is a combination of sandbags, barricades and barbed wire.

The operation remains until the present day, preventing ethnic groups having friction again. It is noted that the intervention ended the direct conflict, but was not successful in promoting integration and in fact resolving the controversies, since its presence is still necessary for the maintenance of peace in the region.

3) Peacebuilding

This type of operation aims at building or consolidating peace and works with violence a structural perspective. The idea of ​​this intervention is to provide assistance and means for a given country or region to develop its economic, political and social structures and, thus, get out of the critical situation in which it finds itself.

Overcoming the structural causes of a conflict leads to overcoming the manifestations of direct violence, since this is just the tip of the iceberg and can be linked, for example, to religious and ethnic differences, scarcity of water or food, disparities and bad power distribution, among others. Therefore, the focus of this intervention is on positive peace as it seeks to resolve the deepest and most root issues of conflicts and not just direct violence, which is a consequence of these factors.

However, it is important to highlight that the conduct of these missions must be planned in a way that does not generate dependency, but rather development so that the country can go on alone after the period of operation. The missions must be designed taking into account the particular characteristics of the area and the conflict that prevails there. It is also necessary for the native population to be heard and its leaders ed in the decision-making process. Otherwise, these peacekeeping missions are ineffective and can serve as a justification for domination and an instrument of power, in which an external intervener settles in the country to rule and decide in the manner most convenient to their interests.

An example of peacebuilding is MINUSTAH. Installed in Haiti in 2004 with the aim of restoring political, social and economic stability in the country after a political insurgency in which the result was the overthrow of then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The fact is that Aristide's election generated great dissatisfaction in the country, mainly the opposition, which started a process of instability and violence in the country and generated the need for a peace intervention.

The country's pacification process involved several fronts of action: providing food for the population, disarming rebel groups, assisting the country's economic and institutional development and holding elections. After 13 years, the mission came to an end in 2017. According to UN data, among the results is the most stable political situation, with the presidential election, the highest level of security in the country, since the rebel groups were restrained, and the restructuring and training of the Haitian police.

However, the intervention failed to improve the economy or the situation of poverty that still persists in the country. In addition, for the Haitian population, the long duration of the mission generated dissatisfaction, due to the loss of autonomy regarding internal decisions about the country's future. The mission was also linked to an outbreak of cholera in the country, due to contaminated Nepalese soldiers who brought the disease, and to cases of soldiers linked to abuse and sexual exploitation.


Peace is a complex process that requires more than just the end of direct violent clashes. It is necessary to identify the root causes of conflicts, which can be of diverse origins: ideological issues to inequalities of the most diverse types or scarcity. there, it is important to carry out a multilateral approach that works uninterruptedly with the development of different areas of society together: education, health, security, economics, politics and even international cooperation.

However, the uniqueness of each conflict means that there is no “cake recipe” for peace, each solution must be designed taking into account not only the context and the causes, but also the particularities of the affected populations.

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