Friendship, like peace, is difficult to define. At the personal level it can be understood as a feeling, or as a state of being. At the community, state, national and global levels, both friendship and peace become much more than feelings, they become essential elements of human wellbeing and progress.
The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed back in 2011 by the UN General Assembly. The idea is that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
Friendship features in two of the eight “Pillars of Peace”. The Pillars of Peace is a research methodology that identifies the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies. While you might think of course friendship and peace are related, just remember that our research provides a statistical analysis of what makes societies peaceful, and quantifying something like friendship isn’t an easy task.
One of the eight key Pillars is Acceptance of the Rights of Others. This Pillar includes the formal institutions that ensure respect for individual rights and freedoms, as well as the informal social and cultural norms of citizens. This includes things important for friendships to form, such as tolerance, interpersonal safety, trust and acceptance – it shows that countries with greater acceptance of ethnic groups and lower levels of discrimination are more peaceful.
The other Pillar of Peace that measure friendship is Good Relations with Neighbours. This domain includes the relationship between individuals, communities and the state. This differs from the Acceptance of the Rights of Others as it measures the quality of the relationships.
Having Good Relations with Neighbours is shown to be strongly associated with peace; social divisions related to nationalism, ethnicity and religion are often associated with conflict. A high level of intergroup cohesion is associated with higher levels of peace.
Spread the word. In fact, on the International Day of Friendship, why not tell your friend about this article and how friendship can contribute to making the world more peaceful.
Our latest research report, the Pillars of Peace, explores the attitudes and institutions that underpin peaceful societies.
Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.