The 5 colours of Peace

While there are many meanings and definitions of peace, we believe that there are five main elements that go together to form peace, and that they can be represented by five colours. Only by bringing these five elements together can we create a sustainable peace.

Disarmament and nonviolence

The design, manufacture, distribution and use of weapons only serve to hinder sustainable peace and perpetuate insecurity and violence. Over the last 100 years, the instruments of war have become immensely destructive. Yet the efforts to restrain them have also made advances. More and more, people understand that violent conflicts can only be effectively resolved though nonviolent means. Historians remind us that nonviolent action has proved a particularly powerful tool for social change.

Conflict prevention and resolution

Conflicts are like diseases: prevention is best, which means addressing root causes. But if hostilities do break out, we need to tackle them with nonviolent means such as arbitration and reconciliation. If the post-conflict work is not effective, then the same social illness may reappear once again. After many centuries of bloody wars, we now have at our disposal a wealth of experience of how to transform these tensions in creative ways that respect fundamental values. The challenge is to apply this expertise, and to offer those best placed to intervene the necessary resources.

Economic and social justice

Much violence and conflict is caused by a sharply-felt sense of injustice. Many groups in society feel they do not get a fair deal — and are not even heard. Such people are easily manipulated by demagogues. So working for a socially-just world — and a world with much greater economic equality — is an important way of making peace. Achieving such justice (like all peace work) requires all whole range of skills and commitments.

Human rights, law and democracy

Respect for human rights, both political/civil and social/economic rights, is a vital source of harmony in society. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the other international human rights Treaties and Covenants. They need to be incorporated into national laws and policies and put into daily practice. Without a genuinely democratic system in which everyone’s opinions are taken into account, tensions tend to build up and can lead to social explosions and violence of all kinds.

Environment and sustainable development

Protecting our environment — and especially the struggle to cope with climate change — is now recognised as humanity’s greatest challenge. This requires adopting, and respecting, social and economic strategies based on sustainable development norms. War is the enemy of such norms, since it tends not only to destroy living beings but also wastes vast amounts of essential resources. There can be no lasting peace unless we find new ways to share the remaining resources on Planet Earth without destroying each other.