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Peace as the absence of violence

Professor Johan Galtung explains violence as the unnecessary insult of basic needs.

If you defined peace as ‘the absence of violence’, then we should try to define what ‘violence’ is. Watch this interview with Professor Johan Galtung, the “father” of peace science, in which he describes violence as the violation of ‘basic human needs’. Basic needs are requirements for living which are shared by all human beings:

  • Survival needs
  • Well-being needs
  • Identity needs
  • Freedom needs

These basic human needs can be violated by physical force or by use of power, and this is probably what first comes to our minds when we think about violence. This is what Professor Galtung calls “direct violence”.

Reflection point

Can you think of other ‘indirect’ forms of violence that harm or kill people?
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Global Health, Conflict and Violence

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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