Lack of Positive Peace in West Africa: Liberia and Nigeria

Johan Galtung has argumentatively stipulated the hypotheses of positive and negative peace. However, the absence of war and the lack of violence refers to what Galtung and Fischer describe as negative peace (37). Consequently, in the event of war, a time for ceasefire comes when both warring parties exit their respective battlefronts and end ongoing violence, and such a period is the practical definition of negative peace. Therefore, during negative peace, violence could be absent, but tension, fear, anxiety, and dread could be palpable. On the other hand, positive peace does not only describe the absence of war and violence, but also the presence of fairness for all members living in a just society. Typically, while negative peace would entail peace through non-peaceful mechanisms, lack of violence through a curative and pessimistic atmosphere, positive peace would normally involve accord achieved on peaceful grounds, preventive and optimistic structural integration (Galtung and Fischer 174). Because all people in the community or mainstream society can enjoy justice indiscriminately, such a people are said to be coexisting in positive peace. Unlike in a negative peace environment, direct and structural forms of violence are lacing in positive peace environment in entirety. Furthermore, if a society is balanced, such that individuals live to their full potential, acquire wealth through exploring and achieving independent and fair sociopolitical or economic platforms, such is an atmosphere where people can fairly access resources and power, hence proving the existence of positive peace. Indeed, tolerance, harmony, respect, and cooperation are critical foundations for an equal, indiscriminate, and violence-free society where people meet no forms of social, cultural, economic, or political resistance in their livelihoods (Galtung and Fischer 123). Nevertheless, positive peace does not expressly imply the total absence of violence or sociopolitical confrontations. Instead, during such vulnerable economic, cultural, and political disagreements among different factions of the society, there is a well-established platform for contenting parties to agree and establish reasonable decisions on what should be done as fair to every party to solve the challenge (Grewal 3). Thus, legitimate demands are made and suitable solutions reached in an environment of positive peace, unlike in a negative peace scenario. Collective efforts foster social prosperity through positive peace since cooperation is pertinent. Regarding Johan Galtung’s framework of peace, this paper discusses the absence of positive peace in West Africa, particularly in the Republics of Liberia and Nigeria.

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The Republic of Liberia has not attained positive peace in terms of Johan Galtung’s framework of negative and positive peace; thus, the country suffers from the elements that do not characterize positive peace. For instance, Liberia has not fully attained the primary eight pillars of positive peace, which entail free flow of information, well-functioning government, acceptance of human rights, equitable accessibility to resources, high degree of human capital, sound and conducive business environment, as well as insignificant levels of corruption (United Nations 1). Since essential programs in crucial disciplines like climate change, water management, energy, science and technology, urbanization, and transport have not been entirely taken care of by responsible government agencies, the society in Liberia does not enjoy social, political, and cultural equality. In addition, the individual potential to achieve a better life has been made inaccessible, hence proving that there is no positive peace in Liberia.

Typically, Nigeria as a country has not met the United Nations goal of strong and independent institutions, justice, and peace, in general (United Nations 1). The 2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030 was adopted by all UN members states, with Nigeria being part to the agreement, whereas this agenda seeks to give the practical blueprint of a prosperous and peaceful society in respective nation-states (United Nations 1). Although 2030 is shy 12 years away, it is evident that Nigeria has not attained beyond average to manifest a possibility of a society that will be enjoying positive peace by then. Regarding local developments and global partnerships, Nigeria has done better than the majority of the West African countries, but it still lingers in a category of developing nations that lag behind regarding economic, cultural, and political arenas (United Nations 1). There are well-laid strategies in Nigeria to eradicate poverty, improve healthcare, education, trigger economic growth, and reduce inequality across all social facets. Furthermore, there are efforts to combat climate change and elements of human behavior that cause environmental pollution and degradation of nature. Nonetheless, in Nigeria, there is no solid implementation framework for the objectives hitherto, hence compromising the concept of positive peace in Nigeria and by extension the West African Region.

Liberia lacks peace because the country has suffered 14 years of civil war (Dorliae 9). Consequently, a period of transition from negative peace to positive peace has been both a strategic and logistical challenge for the government and the society at large. Liberia hopes to achieve the socio-economic and political status of a middle-income state by 2030, but the loss the civil war caused remains to be an overbearing burden. For instance, more than 250 thousand people died, tens of millions forced off their homes, the integrity of government institutions compromised, and infrastructure decimated (Dorliae 9). In essence, Liberia does not enjoy positive peace.

Similarly, Nigeria does not enjoy positive peace because of the civil war between the government and the terrorist factions in the country, mainly the Al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram (Voluntary National Review 6). Furthermore, the over-reliance on natural gas and oil has made the agriculture sector to diminish in returns; hence, many citizens lost their jobs due to poor economic growth. This, in return, resulted in food insecurity and poverty in general (Voluntary National Review 3) . Manmade disasters, desertification, natural disasters, and climate change have interfered with the sociopolitical and cultural environment of the Nigerian citizenry, thus leading to a lack of positive peace. Humanitarian crisis, economic recession, and lack of modern-day forms of infrastructure have all contributed to the declining status of livelihoods in Nigeria (Voluntary National Review 3). In essence, both Liberia and Nigeria have not attained positive peace in regard to the Johan Galtung’s framework, and this is the common situation across the states of the West African region.


Works Cited

Dorliae, Kou. “Republic of Liberia 2012 National Sustainable Development Report.”, 2012, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Galtung, Johan, and Dietrich Fischer. Johan Galtung: Pioneer of Peace Research. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.

Grewal, Baljit Singh. Johan Galtung: Positive and Negative Peace. Auckland University of Technology, 2003.

Voluntary National Review. “Implementation of the SDGs A National Voluntary Review.”, 2017, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

United Nations. “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018.”, 2018, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.