Peace is a significant catalyst in the attainment of meaningful national unity and development. It is common axiom that no meaningful progress or development can take place in an atmosphere devoid or peace. Therefore, a country or any human society that undermines peace is heading towards anarchy coupled with other socio-economic problems that are better imagıned,.
In this article, attempts would be made to examine the place of peace in national unity and development. In doing this, certain pertinent concepts will be considered. The techniques for achieving peace as well as the inter-connection between peace, conflict and development shall be discussed.
Finally, the importance of peace in national development shall be explored. At the juncture, it is pertinent to note that the seminal work of Ikejiani on peace studies and conflict resolution (2009), forms a significant inspiration for this write-up. It is hereby adopted for the purpose of general reading and academic exercise.
The Conceptual Meaning of Peace
Peace is one of humanity’s highest values and there are many definitions of what peace is. Its meaning is multilateral and multi-discipline, depending on which notion is central in the determination of peace concept. The most common use of the concept of peace is in the absence of dissension, violence or war. According to Ikejiani (2009), Peace is seen as a state of mind in concourse with serenity: a state of harmony, tranquility, concord and a balance of equilibrium of powers. Peace is a state of justice, goodness and civil government. Peace can be empirical or abstract, normative or descriptive, active or passive.
Peace derives its meaning within a cognitive framework of theory. The Animist, Christian or Muslim would view peace differently as will pacifists, social, democrats, fascist and theorists of international relations. There are many perspectives or variants of the definition of peace.
Psychologically, peace is a state of mind in harmony and balance; invariably, a function of the mindset of an individual or a group of people to their state of being. What is their environment like? Is it hazardous, unsafe and contaminated? Is there much stress due to lack of basic infrastructure (lack of water, electricity and good roads) justly dispensed according to the dictates of law? Peace has to do with the citizens’ mindset and perception of how they see active measures by government in securing life, liberty and property.
The sociological perspective views peace as a value that emanates from just human relationships which enhance social harmony. The political perspective depicts peace as a broad concept subsumed in a number of ways such as balance of powers or as a civil government. The balance of power is a must for peace as a social contract underlying a structure of social expectations and associated social cooperation.
Mialle (1968) states that peace entails institutionalization of political structures that guarantee security, which means that political structures acquire value and stability. The implicit meaning is that to have peace, there must exist stable structures and secularity, which require and assume broad-based political participation by the citizens of a state.
Politically, within a state, the condition for peace are created and maintained when the leaders and the citizens carry out their constitutional, political, social and economic roles by providing security. But despite these multidisciplinary conceptions, what the politics of peace sees as a good statecraft and a product of successful management of justices, values and resources is the equitable distribution between all the members of the state. Despite these disciplinary conceptions of peace, we have yet to look at the essential, fundamental and analytical exposition; it is necessary to look at the etymology of peace.
The best concept of peace is perhaps when the world, states, societies, villages, families and individuals are not at war and there are no remote soundings of war. However, absence of war does not necessarily mean that the individual or the extended social formations is at peace with itself. The meaning of peace has emerged, grown and expanded over the history of philosophy and general human history.
The concept of peace is both an ethical virtue and an axiological value. Peace is seen as a virtue necessary for the perfection of both the individual and the achievement of justice and well-being in society. Thus, peace acquired as a moral achievement, a value which increases the worth and dignity of the individual. It is an adornment pursued from the collective acquisitions for individual in society, which enhances the possibility of social, political and educational achievements of the perfect society as conceived by philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas Kant, etc.
Exploring the philosophical position on peace means analyzing the work, idea and experience of peace. The new Lexicon Webster’s dictionary defines peace with the following value profiles:
- The condition that exists when nations or other groups are not fighting;
- The ending of a state of war;
- The treaty that marks the end of war;
- Friendly relations between individuals untroubled or undisturbed by disputes,
- Freedom from noise, worries, troubles, fears etc,
A critical look at the profile given by the Webster’s dictionary on peace exposes its limitations, which centre on the question – does the absence of war or hostility mean peace in a community or state? When Nigeria is not at war with any nation, does that translate to the philosophical and empirical fact that Nigeria is at peace with itself? It can be concluded that the Webster’s profile on peace, common to global thinking, has spawned false thinking and understanding of the elements of peace as conceived by philosophers over the ages.
The philosophical deposition on peace is a dialectical, holistic and dynamic reality, which does not see peace as a unit or factor in human society. It is more of comprehensive and successful assistance to mankind to meet the modern challenges of peace.
The Eurocentric conception of peace demonstrates a lack of comprehension of dialectical nature of peace. This dialectics exposes the relationship between peace and every other societal factors or dynamics.
Peace is center-connected with the level of socio-economic, cultural and political development and the nature of the struggle between all the contending social classes in society. What constitutes the enabling condition and dynamics for peace in society cannot generate peace in another society.
Secondly, the political and terroristic wars in the 21st century have clouded a time study and exploration of the concepts of peace. Peace is not a fantasy, speculation or utopia not based upon a proper context of societal force that has both underdevelopment and development connotations. It is the philosophical conception of peace, which exposes these main dimensions of peace that will give us a systematic, dialectical and comprehensive understanding of what both peace and war are. Thus, peace is often discussed contextually, though the bottom is the condition devoid of conflict.
According to Onu (2009) in Ikejiani (2009), conflict can be defined as manifestation of hostile attitude in the face of conflicting interests over resources, identity, power, status or values. It has also been generally seen as a situation in which two or more parties strive to acquire the same scarce resources at the same time. This latter definition has raised some controversy because of its emphasis on economic factors, leaving out sociological and psychological issues of perception and norms, values and belief systems.
Conflicts can be latent or manifest. When conflicts are barely recognized because of itself – delusion, rationalization, lack of knowledge, or suppressed information – we can refer to such as latent conflict. However, when these become consciously expressed and voiced we refer to conflict as manifest.
There are violent and peaceful conflicts. It is peaceful when the issues at cross roads are handled peacefully according to regulated mechanisms. It can also be violent when it takes the form of non-redundant rebellion or civil war.
Conflicts can be regulated, resolved or transformed. Various factors regulate conflict: national constitutions and law, family and clan structure, and court system, Robert’s Rules of Order, the law of the sea, Religion codes, habits of decorum, debates and discourse are among other mechanisms. These can be informal and tacit-social mores and customs. They can also be highly formal and institutionalızed, as in a nation’s written statutes.
Violent conflicts occur when parties go beyond seeking to attain their goals peacefully, and try to dominate or destroy the opposing parties’ ability to pursue their own interests.
Conflicts take place within particular contexts. These contexts, according to Mialle (2001:5), include the society in conflict and wider international and regional levels within the society. Accordingly, crucial arrangements, social roles, norms the rules and codes in place in society, and its path of development. As globalization proceeds, according to him, local conflicts are inevitably influenced by wider economic and political forces.
National development is a multi-dimensional concept which involves dynamic and continuous transformation process of the individual, social, economic and political sectors of a nation, towards better and improved conditions, locally an internationally. It is the ability of a country to improve the social welfare of the people by providing social amenities like quality education, portable water, transportation infrastructure, medical care etc.
This is a state of harmonious co-existence of all the different sectors or ethic nationalities of a nation, having in mind the presence of a common goal, common destiny and identity, working together in confronting common challenges, both locally and internationally, for the purpose of protecting and providing the basic necessities of life to all the component parts.
This Situation fosters national progress, patriotism, stability, mutual respect and national development.
However, the importance of peace in achieving this state of affair cannot be over emphasized.