Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 5:20 PM
Course: War and Health (War and Health)
Glossary: Medical Peace Work Glossary

Negative Peace

The absence of direct, structural and cultural violence (J. Galtung). 

Non-governmental organisation (NGO)

The United Nations defines non-governmental organisations as “All organisations [...] that are not central governments and were not created by intergovernmental decision, including associations of businesses, parliamentarians and local authorities”.

In the context of medical peace work you will encounter NGOs such as such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as Oxfam, Save the Children and a host of nationally-based humanitarian and development NGOs. 


Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

A philosophical and pedagogical tool that encourages human connection and strengthens people’s capacity to speak and listen with empathy. 

Nuclear weapons

A weapon whose explosive power results from a nuclear reaction. This reaction results in the release of an immense amount of energy in the form of an explosion, many times greater than that of conventional explosives. 



Not merely the absence of violence, but a state of mutual beneficial relationships, fair structures, and a culture of peace. Peace is also a capacity to handle conflicts with empathy, creativity and by non-violent means (J. Galtung). 

Positive peace

Not merely the absence of violence (negative peace), but constructive handling of conflict, the building up of peaceful structures and a culture of peace (J. Galtung). 



Repair of broken relationships and the restoration of peaceful relationships. 


A person who, owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. 

Right to health

The right to health or – more precisely – the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is established in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Measures states should take to fulfill the right are laid down in Article 12 and have been further elaborated in General Comments by the treaty‘s monitoring committee. The right to health is subject to the principle of progressive realisation outlined in the Covenant. 


Second world war

Armed conflict beginning in September 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany (although Japan had invaded China in 1937). It became a ‘world war’ in a truer sense in 1941 after the bombardment of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese and the consequent declaration of war by the US on Japan and Germany. Although in terms of the percentage of soldiers killed it was a less bloody war than the first world war, the total sum of the dead – approximately 40 million – was devastating. For the first time in history in a major war the civilian dead outnumbered those within the fighting forces. The war is also infamous for Nazi Germany’s medical experiments on human beings, and its sterilisation and so-called ‘euthanasia’ programmes.