Measuring peace: What’s the score?

Thu, 23 Apr 2015 by team score

We can come up with a number of ideas if we want to promote peaceful coexistence.

But what do we do if we want to measure “peace”?

The empirical study of peace is still an underdeveloped field. Not only is peace difficult to quantify; there are also few tools readily available to measure it.

Without being able to measure the level of peaceful coexistence in a given setting, we lose the opportunity to create meaningful, well-informed peaceful interventions.

In Cyprus, I have been working with the SeeD team on a tool that is designed to do just this.

It is called the SCORE index.

SCORE is designed to measure two indicators of peace in a society: Social Cohesion and Reconciliation.

By “social cohesion” we mean the degree to which members of a society and the institutions that govern them co-exist harmoniously.

By “reconciliation” we refer to the quality of the relationship between members of (particularly adversary) social groups – ethnic, religious, political, and other.

As you can imagine, societies that have experienced intergroup conflict tend to have lower scores on these indices, which undermines peace efforts.

With SCORE, we are utilizing a participatory methodology, which is to say we obtain our data through interviewing people using a structured questionnaire. This questionnaire allows us to measure a number of variables, such as readiness for political compromise between rival groups, levels of contact between these groups, and levels of civic engagement within groups.

What can SCORE do for peace?

We are hoping to use SCORE in multiple ways. First, we think it can provide a good snapshot of what the relationships within and between groups are in a country at a specific point in time. In this way, we can unveil which segments of the population are particularly unwilling to reconcile with other groups.

Secondly, imagine measuring “peace” over multiple points in time. This turns SCORE into a monitoring tool (or in other words, a peace barometer). It can even tell us whether certain interventions have achieved their goal or not.

Finally, we can use SCORE to test certain hypotheses – or to put it differently, to answer questions. In Cyprus, for example, we are currently working to answer the following question: “Which aspects of social cohesion and of reconciliation are affecting people’s readiness for a political compromise?”

Charting the way for the future

I hope that SCORE’s findings can provide food for thought in a number of contexts. It would be a dream come true to see it utilized by an array of stakeholders, including local and international Civil Society Organisations, politicians and leaders, as well as by academics who are interested in the study of peace.

So far, SCORE has explored data in two countries: Cyprus, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Should you want to explore the depths of the SCORE index and browse our current findings, you can visit our newly launched SCORE platform.

And if you are a peace activist attending the Build Peace Conference in Cyprus this April – join us for a pre-conference  launch event on 24th April where we will be introducing SCORE and will be sharing some of the results from Cyprus and Bosnia.

We are looking forward to having the chance to talk more about our work and lessons learned with SCORE and to meet others who may want to use it in their own contexts.

Hope to see you there!