Medical Peace Work Glossary

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

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Civil society

The United Nations defines civil society as “associations of citizens (outside their families, friends and businesses) entered into voluntarily to advance their interests, ideas and ideologies. The term does not include profit-making activity (the private sector) or governing (the public sector)”.

Civil society might therefore include labour unions, faith-based groups, business and professional associations, academic and research institutions, human rights networks, consumer rights coalitions, social movements, social and sports clubs, philanthropic foundations, and other forms of ‘associational life’. 

Codes of conduct

The moral principles that are implicit or explicit in (inter-) national codes and which reflect good clinical practice. 


Perception of incompatible goals in a goal-seeking system. Conflict is not necessarily violent. In fact, parties who have incompatible goals may deal with them in productive and non-violent ways. 

Contemporary conflict

The prevailing pattern of social and political conflicts at the beginning of the 21st century. 

Cultural Violence

Cultural violence refers to those parts of religion, ideology, language, art, science, or cosmology which justify and legitimise the use of direct or structural violence (J. Galtung).