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Reports and reviews -- Peacebuilding: A Textbook by Donald W. DeMott

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Peacebuilding: A Textbook (Edition 4.0), Donald W. DeMott. (Geneseo, NY: High Fall Publications, 1994).

In Peacebuilding: A Textbook, DeMott argues for a reappraisal of the way conflict is viewed in society. He asserts that far too much emphasis is placed on the differences between actors in such situations, be they states or individuals, when in fact it is the circumstances governing their relationships which offer the greatest insight into successful conflict resolution. Peace implies more than simply the absence of war, it has to be constructed and nurtured through a relationship of justice and an emphasis on the relations between sides, thus peacebuilding.

Peacebuilding is best done through the application of what DeMott characterizes as the application of "peace-technology"; the creation of families, neighbourhoods, or countries in which conflicts are not viewed simply as a reason to subjugate the opponent, but as an opportunity to work together with the opponent to construct a more beneficial relationship. The article points to two important factors which contribute to the promotion of war and instability in the world today--the popular conception of peace through strength and the pervasiveness of structural violence.

The emphasis on military strength as a deterrent results in the continued propogation of new and expensive weapons systems, which results in the diversion of funding badly needed for social policy initiatives in many countries. However, DeMott sees little value in pursuing disarmament as options must continue to be retained to deal with the emergence of rogue states or individuals on the international scene. But far greater efforts and resources must be expended on the United Nations and other international forums so that they may be better equipped to handle the burdens placed on them in the new age. The publication also calls for serious attempts at reducing the structural violence or...