Medical Peace Work Glossary

Terms are from the Medical Peace Work | Course 1 Health Workers, conflict and peace.

Browse the glossary using this index

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Self-directed violence

Self-directed violence includes acts of self-abuse (such as self-mutilation) and suicidial behaviour (thoughts and attempts). 

Structural violence

Structural violence refers to socio-economic and political processes which violate basic human needs (J. Galtung). 


United Nations General Assembly

From the UN website: established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 192 Members of the United Nations, it provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. 


Vietnam war

The Vietnam war might best be seen as part of the cold war and anti-colonial battles which convulsed south-east Asia in the period after second world war. After the defeat of Vietnam’s French colonisers by
the Viet Minh forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the country was split into a communist-ruled North and a capitalist south. The south was supported by the United States. The Americans feared that – in the wake of the Chinese revolution – the fall of south Vietnam would lead to a communist takeover of all countries in south-east Asia (the ‘domino theory’).

American interference in Vietnam led to armed conflict with the communist-ruled North throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The war extended to neighbouring countries. The war ended in 1975 when American troops were expelled from the southern Vietnamese city of Saigon. Around 50,000 American soldiers had died; Vietnamese dead are estimated at one million. 


Unnecessary insult of basic human needs (J. Galtung). 

Violent conflict

The use of physical and psychological force or power to ‘solve’ a conflict. 



Extreme form of violence. Used as a means to solve conflicts between nation states, or between groups within a nation state (civil war). 

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