Foreword by USIP President Richard H. Solomon

The construction blocks of peacebuilding take many forms. But perhaps the most basic is language. If we are to be successful in what inevitably is a collective enterprise, we must communicate in terms that are direct and operationally useful. But the language of peacemaking is not always clear. The meanings of diplomacy, mediation, and negotiation are relatively straightforward. But what exactly is a “resource curse,” and what do we mean by “social media”? What is the difference between autonomy and sovereignty, between proximity talks and shuttle diplomacy, and perhaps most pertinent, between peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding?

To help answer these questions, USIP's Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, under the leadership of Pamela Aall, has produced this compendium of Peace Terms. As the Academy has developed, it has become apparent that we needed to create a common set of terms that could be used across the spectrum of books and courses. In order to develop this set of terms, we turned to writer and editor Dan Snodderly, whose tenure as USIP’s director of publications from 1993 to 2004 gave him a thorough understanding of the complex task he was undertaking. He has succeeded admirably. Indeed, without his skill with words and facilitation as an editor, we would still be discussing what should go under the A’s rather than presenting this extensive glossary.

The Institute’s Academy was established in 2009 as the education and training arm of the United States Institute of Peace. It encompasses and builds upon both the domestic and international programs that the Institute has provided for over two decades. The Academy offers practitioner-oriented courses at the Institute’s headquarters in Washington and elsewhere; conducts conflict management workshops and training in conflict zones abroad; and makes many of its courses and other resources available online to professionals, teachers, and students around the world. 

Participants in the Academy’s offerings come from diverse backgrounds: U.S. civilian and military agencies, international organizations, the nonprofit sector, schools and universities, and civil society groups and officials in conflict zones, among others.

Similarly, the definitions in this glossary have been drawn from many sources, not least of which are the Institute’s own publications. Notable among these are the volumes by Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall—Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World, Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World, and Taming Intractable Conflicts: Mediation in the Hardest Casesand Chas. W. Freeman Jr.’s Diplomat’s Dictionary, second edition, which coincidentally quotes Drazen Pehar as describing diplomacy as “primarily words that prevent us from reaching for our swords."

Other relevant Institute books include Raymond Cohen’s Negotiating Across Cultures: International Communication in an Interdependent World; Bill Zartman’s Peacemaking in International Conflict; and Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction, project director Beth Cole.

Finally, please note that we intend this glossary to be a living document. We welcome feedback from our readers, and we will update the web version as needed. Peace Terms is by no means the last word, and we look forward to a conversation with our audience as we refine this linguistic guide to conflict management and peacebuilding.

Richard H. Solomon, President
United States Institute of Peace

Connect With Us

Read the glossary's User Comment Policy.