Our Theory of Peace

OEF believes that no violent conflict comes from any one cause. Whether considering conflict within or between countries, or internationalized conflict where external governments inflame conflict within another country, there are always multiple pressures leading people to choose to engage in violence. These include pressures at the level of key decision-makers as well as across society. This means that sustainable peace will always require working across multiple different issues.

Violent Conflict Within Countries
(Graphic 1)

Conflict within countries remains the most common and most lethal form of political violence. This happens when groups or people lose faith in the political systems to address their concerns or feel that they must use violence to achieve deeply held goals or defend themselves. Sustainable peace requires working across issues of economic development, quality of life, trust in government, and attitudes about violence.


Violent Conflict Between Countries
(Graphic 2)

War between governments is less common than it was historically, but remains a feature of the world and can be exceptionally lethal. The most devastating wars in history have come from violent conflict between countries. In the modern world the risk of a return of these lethal wars persists, and increasingly countries are turning to “internationalized” conflict where the drivers of war between countries lead them to support violent actors within the borders of other countries.
OEF Diagram
Effective peacebuilding requires working across all the different pressures leading to violence or preventing peace. This means addressing issues of good governance, economic development, beliefs and history supporting violence, and any other driver. This task is bigger than any single institution, and bigger than any one sector of society. Building sustainable peace requires all parts of a society including governments, the private sector, and civil society to work together in a coordinated fashion to support sustainable peace. This in turn requires systems of coordination that can help all aspects of society work together in an effective collaboration.