There are numerous causes of war, and some of the most common causes of war throughout human history include conflict over resources, conflict over values and ideologies, revolutions or civil wars, defense against a threat, nationalism, and hostilities based on racial, ethnic, or religious differences (Mooney, Know, & Schacht, 2014, p. 486-490). Various strategies can be used to avoid wars, but it is not certain that humans will ever be able to create a society without war.
It is possible to notice that only one cause of war is based on defense from potential threats and that one cause of war is based on biological survival and well-being. Therefore, these two are related to fear and the need for survival, and it would be possible to eliminate those causes of war in the modern society if humans strive to create a global society in which everyone has the same basic rights and needs satisfied. However, other historical causes of war are based on differences in social constructs such as values and ideologies among different social groups. As long as people divide themselves based on social identities, such as race, ethnicity, or religion, those causes of war will always remain relevant.
The intervention of international organizations is one of the possible ways to prevent war. The United Nations (UN) is an organization of 193 member states that was formed in the aftermath of World War II to eliminate war from society (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 506). Although the UN is equipped to fight wars with their military personnel, peaceful solutions such as economic sanctions against countries in violation of international laws are preferred. However, the UN is not a single entity, but an organization in which members represent individual countries, so it is always possible that some nations act in their own economic interests (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 507).
Mediation is a way of preventing war that involves using third parties to facilitate negotiations between the leaders or representatives of the groups in conflict (Mooney et al., 2014, p. 507). Arbitration is a form of preventing conflict by appointing one or more individuals with the authority to make a decision that the two parties in conflict are legally bound to. However, individuals involved in those processes must be impartial because they could otherwise impose a solution that is either partial to one of the parties or beneficial to themselves. Although Svensson (2009) suggests that biased mediators are more likely to develop better and more elaborated agreements for facilitating future development than neutral mediators, their decisions must not lead to the suppression or either party in the negotiations.
Considering the fact that historical causes of war are still possible triggers for war, the best way to avoid war is to prepare for it and discourage enemies from starting a war in the first place. However, at the same time, that approach may result in the creation of a strong military, which the politicians can use to enforce their agenda on an international level. If that happens, the oppression of weaker societies may encourage revolutions and guerilla warfare rather than solve the causes of war.
In all three possible solutions to war that were presented, it is possible to notice that subjective interest can interfere with the goal of war prevention and escalate the situation or promote self-interest instead. The best way to minimize risk of war is through education and upbringing that focuses on values such as tolerance, multicultural competence, and other values that enable people to respect the diversity of the contemporary world. As Mooney et al. (2014) point out, “we are all members of one community – earth – and have a vested interest in staying alive and protecting the resources of our environment for our own and future generations” (p. 513).
Mooney, L. A., Know, D., & Schacht, C. (2014). Understanding social problems (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Svensson, I. (2009). Who brings which peace? Neutral versus biased mediation and institutional peace arrangements in civil wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53(3), 446-469.