Peacemaking: Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up

Originally published in SSRN

This paper contrasts two views of peacemaking. The first, and dominant, view treats peacemaking as a top-down phenomena where peace, defined as the absence of large-scale violence, is a result of state action. I call this view of peace pax imperii (“peace of government”) because it holds that the source of peace and order is top-down design, direction, intervention, and control by state actors. The second, more neglected, view treats peacemaking as a bottom-up process. This perspective appreciates that peace is not a top-down, one-size-fits all policy or outcome, but rather an emergent outcome resulting from diverse micro-level skills that need to be continually discovered, cultivated, and adapted through time. This view elevates the individual as the central source of peacemaking. It emphasizes cooperative power through horizontal relationships between equals as compared to coercive power via the vertical relationships that define top-down peacemaking. It recognizes heterogenous cultures of peace which empower ordinary people to navigate conflicts without resorting to violence. I call this second view, pax hominum (“peace of human beings”) to emphasize the centrality of ordinary people as the main drivers of peacemaking. I contrast these two views through the framework of mainline political economy and discuss the implications for scholarship and the liberal project.

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