The Normality of Peace

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Melko, Matthew. Peace Research 28, no. 2 (1996): 49–54.

In this article, Melko engages with the statement ‘peace is normal, war is exceptional’ in an attempt to prove that even during historical periods of high conflict, there remains a widespread existence of peace which goes overlooked by historians. Using qualitative methods of data research and analysis, Melko proves that some of the most violent periods in recent history, such as the first half of the 20th century in the ‘Western’ world, contained peace 77% of the time, despite two world wars.

In terms of visualising peace, the interest of this article lies in the way it sets out its research. Melko questions the usefulness of the idea of ‘ideal peace’ – a peace which includes ‘freedom from fear and freedom of want’ – in this qualitative study. He decides to define peace as a period without violence, removing subjectivity from the definition, enabling him to reach objective conclusions on the existence of peace within high-conflict areas. In conclusion, Melko is able to point to the increasing prevalence of peace during the 20th century, and open-endedly invites the reader to consider what we can be done to support this process. This article is a lesson in changing our perceptions of history in order to further peacemaking.

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