Sunday, August 18, 2013

Positive Peace

Finally, this weekend's anniversary of the Accra Peace Accord signing saw a good deal of press coverage marking the decade since the end of Liberia's Civil War. Liberian journalist and researcher Robtel Neajai Pailey wrote a very nice essay, published on the Guardian website, which included this poignant passage: 
However, a decade on, we are reminded of how far we have left to go. A raised voice, threats of riot and protest, and overall disillusionment remind us that peace is the mask we wear to hide our fears of violence. Although the guns have fallen silent, Liberia is experiencing what social theorist Johan Galtung called negative peace – that is, peace derived from the absence of physical violence. Over the next decade and beyond, Liberia must strive for positive peace: the absence of indirect, structural violence manifested in poverty, inequality, and impunity. 
When Liberians publicly rebuke corruption, they are calling for positive peace. When Liberians lament that a third of their land is being leased to concession companies without local consultation, they are calling for positive peace. When Liberians scorn the pay disparities between those who come from abroad and those who remained in the country during the war, they are calling for positive peace. When Liberians call for a war crimes tribunal and full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations, they are calling for positive peace.

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