Let's get peacebuilding in the dictionary

Warmonger, despot, brutality, warfare - all of these words are in the dictionary, and for good reason. It’s important to have the words to express the world around us, particularly those related to violent conflict, which is on the rise around the world and one of the leading causes of human suffering. But it’s also important to be able to talk about how we can build peace.

Building peace that lasts takes dedication, time and courage, with people working together, across divides, in the most difficult of circumstances. To stop violent conflict in the long term, you have to address the reasons why people fight in the first place, so that people can find ways to resolve conflict nonviolently and don’t turn to violence again. This is called 'peacebuilding'.

Every day peacebuilders put themselves in challenging situations to bring about peace.

Peacebuilders have changed the world... but you’ve probably never heard of them!

And although ‘peacebuilding’ is a word used by the United Nations, the World Bank and by governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations and peacebuilders globally, 'peacebuilding' is not in the dictionaries!

We think it’s time to change this. That’s why peacebuilders worldwide have decided to get the word 'peacebuilding' in to the Oxford English Dictionary, Harper Collins and Merriam Webster dictionaries. We have submitted the word to the dictionaries, and now we want to get it trending. And we need your help!

Tell the dictionaries it’s time to add 'peacebuilding'!

If you’re on Twitter, tweet at the dictionaries to tell them you want to see peacebuilding included in their next edition:

You can also share the campaign on Facebook to invite your friends to take part:

Why do we want to add peacebuilding to the dictionary?

It’s not just because we hate that squiggly line that tells us we’ve made a spelling mistake every time we write peacebuilding (although that is a good reason).

We think it is time to recognise the extraordinary impact of peacebuilders who have worked hard to bring their societies out of violent conflict and in to peace, work that is as vital as ever. More than that, we think it’s vital that people have the language to understand the concept of peacebuilding, so that we can all focus on ending violent conflict in the long term by really addressing the reasons why people fight.

What do we want the dictionaries to add?

Peacebuilding (also seen peace-building, peace building)

noun | /pēs bildiNG/ [pees bil-ding]

A broad range of measures implemented in the context of emerging, current or post‐conflict situations and which are explicitly guided and motivated by a primary commitment to the prevention of violent conflict and the promotion of a lasting and sustainable peace.

– OECD2

Dictionary cover

Throughout history, peacebuilders have made peace a reality amid devastating violence. Peacebuilders in Rwanda worked together to overcome a genocide and bring together perpetrators and survivors of violence to learn how to live side by side in their communities. Peacebuilders in Northern Ireland brought peace to a country that had suffered violence for generations. Peacebuilders in Yemen, Syria, DRC all are working hard to resolve conflict without violence and find a way to build long-term peace.

So join us, and tell the dictionaries it’s time to talk about peacebuilding!


The campaign is supported by a coalition of peacebuilding organisations including African Peacebuilding Network, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Catalyst for Peace, Conciliation Resources, Generations for Peace, International Alert, Partners Global, Peace and Security Funders Group, Peace Direct and Search for Common Ground.