A Tribute to Johan Galtung 

The pioneer of peace studies and a source of inspiration for many

We are saddened by the news of Johan Galtung’s passing. As “a founding father of peace studies,” Galtung has made unparalleled contributions to peace and conflict research and has left an unforgettable mark on generations of scholars and practitioners. His impact expanded beyond academia as he applied his expertise and dedication to peace to over 100 conflicts, earning him the 1987 Right Livelihood Award. 

His groundbreaking contributions have influenced our work at the War Prevention Initiative. He introduced concepts such as positive and negative peace, structural and cultural violence, conflict transformation, and peace journalism. He founded the Journal of Peace Research and the inaugural academic institute dedicated to peace studies, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). 

Reflecting on a memorable encounter, WPI Executive Director Patrick Hiller recalls facilitating a plenary session with Johan Galtung at an International Peace Research Association conference. The session was running late, and the conference organizers instructed Hiller to shorten the panel from 90 to 45 minutes. Hiller was apprehensive about delivering this news to Galtung. Indeed, Galtung expressed his displeasure with the change in a dry yet friendly tone and said, “That’s impossible; I have more to say.” When Galtung’s turn came, he spoke for exactly 15 minutes without notes, then smiled at Hiller and quietly remarked, “See, we’re good.” 

Galtung argued that peace studies should be normative in nature, advocating for nonviolent conflict resolution, social justice, human rights, and the elimination of structural violence. We will continue working on his legacy and vision, striving to foster a culture of peace and nonviolence in our communities and societies.

(Featured photo: Johan Galtung with Patrick Hiller at the 2014 International Peace Research Association Conference in Istanbul, Turkey)