Peace does not mean a state of mind or a condition with complete absence of disturbances or conflicts. In fact, complete absence of disturbances or conflicts in human world is impossible. Peace is a social and political condition that ensures development of individuals, society and nation. It is a state of harmony characterised by the existence of healthy relationships.
It is a condition related to the social or economic welfare and equality. It is also related to a working political order that serves true interests of all. In the context of intra-national and international relations, peace is not merely the absence of war or conflict, but also the presence of socio-cultural and economic understanding and unity.
Security ranges from individual, institutional, regional, national to international levels. Security arrangements are made for key governmental and other important institutions or certain regions that are under threat. In general terms, security means a secure condition or feeling free from fear. It also means the safety of an individual, an institution, a region, a nation or the world. However, in its most basic sense, security implies freedom from extremely dangerous threats. It also relates to threats that endanger core values like human rights.
Peace and Security
Peace and security are inseparable. Combined together, it is a condition where individuals, institutions, regions, nations and the world move ahead without any threat. In this condition regions or nations are generally more stable domestically, likely to be democratically governed and respectful to human rights. Conflict not only generates threat and fear, but also hampers economic, social, or political advancement.
Traditional and New Understanding of Peace and Security
Traditional notion has been focused since ages on the danger of military or armed conflicts or threats. The source of the danger has been a nation threatening to take or being suspected to take military action against the other. This endangers sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the nation, and also the lives of its people.
As a measure of ensuring peace and security, the cause of the threat of military action is sorted out by the concerned nations through a bilateral agreement, or a long-term treaty for not taking military action against each other. The nations also take preventive measures by increasing their defence capabilities, deploying more armed forces on borders.
Some also adopt balance of power approach through entering into a treaty with other nations to take joint action in the case of military attack on any one of them. The international organisations like United Nations have been created to save the humanity from the threat of war or armed conflicts.
But the new or non-traditional notion of peace and security is much broader and goes beyond military threats to include wide range of dangers and threats to human existence. This conceptualisation includes not only regions and nations, but also individuals or communities and the human kind at large. This notion is primarily addressed to individuals.
It is true that protection of people from foreign attacks is a necessary condition for peace and security, but it is not the be all and end all. In fact, peace and security is to be seen as the precondition to socio-economic development and to the maintenance of human dignity.
The new notion of peace and security also includes freedom of individuals from hunger, freedom from wants, diseases and epidemics, environmental degradation, exploitation and sub-human treatment. In this background the new notion of peace and security is based on threats beyond military attacks. These threats may be from terrorism, insurgency, genocide, denial of human rights, health epidemics, narcotics trade and irrational use of natural resources.
Peace and Security for Democracy and Development
There is a mutual relationship between democracy and development, and peace and security. In the absence of peace and security, democracy cannot function and development cannot take place. It is necessary to have peace for holding of elections. The democratic institutions cannot function if there is no peace.
Citizens can participate in the process of decision-making at different levels only when the peace prevails. Peace is still more essential for development in various areas. No development activity is possible if there is disturbance, violence or war. On the other hand peace cannot be achieved in the absence of democracy and development.
It has been observed that democracies by and large do not go for war. One can argue that regional peace is enhanced if democracy is prevalent in all the countries that constitute that region. Democracy is also better placed for eliminating conditions that generate public dissatisfaction. It is so because democratic system provides equal opportunity to all citizens to participate in the process of governance and decision-making.
Development also promotes peace. It is through development that nations can ensure social and economic progress for the people and improve their quality of life. This ensures that people do not suffer from a sense of deprivation which leads them to indulge in protests and violent activities. When development activities continue in all the countries of a region, every country ensures that the peace is not disturbed, otherwise development will suffer. Development initiatives contribute to sustain peace, security and stability in the countries.