Neither does peace necessarily imply tranquillity. The affairs of mankind are in incessant flux. No relationship – between individuals or communities or political parties or countries – remains the same from one day to the next. All relationships involve clashes of interest and interpretation. New situations are forever arising and demand constant attention. Tensions build up and need to be defused.

Peace is the manner in which people deal with these inevitable tensions without resorting to violence, force or compulsion.

In our quest for peace we should constantly ask ourselves what we should do to create conditions in which peace can prosper. It is easy to identify those forces and conditions that militate against peace and that must be eradicated:

Since the vast proportion of human history has been characterised by such conditions, it should not surprise us that much of history has been a lamentable tale of violence and war.

But there is reason for optimism. Around the world forces that favour peace are on the move. Amongst them, economic development is fundamentally important. Economic growth, generated by the free market, is transforming societies everywhere:

And hand in hand with economic development goes democracy. Wherever economic growth occurs it tends to promote the establishment of representative and democratic institutions – institutions which invariably contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

It is highly significant that there has never been a war between genuine and universal democracies. There have been countless wars between totalitarian and authoritarian states.  There have been wars between democracies and dictatorships – most often in defence of democratic values or in response to aggression. But there are no instances of truly free and democratic peoples taking up arms against one another. The reasons for this are evident:

Through these forces good progress is being made. The present world-wide constitutional development toward democracy, underpinned by economic development, augurs well for peace.”

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation