Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen – Romania & Canada & Norway

Linked with Transcent, with The Power of Non-Violence, with Johan Galtung – Norway, with Violence, War, and Their Impact, with The Transnational Foundation, and with TRANSCEND’s Advanced International Training Program.

Kai Brand-Jacobsen is Director of the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR) and is Co-Director of Transcend, a development organization dedicated to resolving conflict by peaceful means. He is also a global consultant and expert advisor and practitioner on peacebuilding, conflict transformation, war-to-peace transitions, and post-war reconciliation and healing. He is promoting local development, community empowerment, and peacebuilding. He talks about how violence is built in to the fabric of our present social, economic and political systems. He talks about three levels of violence that pervade society – direct violence, structural violence and cultural violence. He explains how structural and cultural violence manifest themselves in numerous subtle ways and gives examples of both cases. He goes on to suggest how together they often lead to acts of direct violence such as war and terrorism. (Listen to the five videos of around 5 minutes, recorded all in November 2004 with Big-Picture).

He says: “Cultural Violence are the ideas, values and belief systems, world-views and cosmologies which make violence seem normal, acceptable, correct, or the best/only option, the good, the ‘chosen’/‘sacred’ path. Examples of cultural violence include those elements of cultures and values which legitimize ‘untouchability’, patriarchy, the exploitation of women, workers and the young, unequal development, concentration of power and wealth in the hands of certain castes/classes/families/nations, etc., beliefs in the superiority of one group, gender, caste, nationality, over another. Belief systems and values which make the structures of violence seem legitimate or seek to enforce them as ‘good’ or the only option/the way things are, the need to ‘crush’ the other side, to ‘eliminate’ them; discrimination against people because of their language, religion, gender, culture, nationality or group. Also: values which legitimize violence as good when used in a ‘noble/just’ cause, or when used against the evil ‘other’, ie. violence is acceptable/legitimate because we are fighting against an unacceptable system/structure or against bad/evil actors. Cultural violence is also the belief that ‘I/we can’t do anything’, that violence is normal, that only those ‘with power’ (politicians, combatants, soldiers, generals/presidents/kings/god/, foreign organisations) can do anything to overcome/solve it or change things, ie. that ‘we’, as people, are powerless. Or that ‘power comes from the barrel of a gun’: therefore, for us to have power, we must pick up the gun. Forms of cultural violence are impressed and internalized in all of us, through our upbringing, exposure to culture and the media, myths, national anthems, monuments, folk tales, songs, jokes, education, street signs. Often, even movements working to overcome violence and exploitation, including nonviolent movements and struggles, can be affected by a war culture approach to conflicts and social change”. (On Transcent.org).

Find the links to his articles on this page of Transcent.

Kai Brand-Jacobsen - Romania one.jpg

Kai Frithof Brand-Jacobsen – Romania & Canada & Norway


Kai has worked in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Russia, Moldova, South Eastern Europe, Colombia, Cambodia, southern Thailand, Burma, Somalia, Aceh, North America, and the Middle East at the invitation of governments, inter-governmental organisations, UN agencies, local organizations and communities promoting local development, community empowerment, and peacebuilding.

Since 1996 he has provided more than 250 training programmes in peace building, development, and constructive conflict transformation to more than 5000 participants in 36 countries. (Read all on worldpuja.org).

He says also: “A system of violence or any form of social ‘order’ or relationship is based, at least in part, on the legitimacy it has for those who support it. Even if it is a system which some actors are strongly opposed to, as long as enough give it their support (or do not actively resist/oppose it or refuse to cooperate), it can remain in place. Nonviolence is both about removing that support and removing the legitimacy of the system/action or injustice – and making its illegitimacy visible. It is about working to address the actual causes of the conflict, both by saying basta! (enough!), and, for positive nonviolence, by bringing forward alternatives: an outcome, for all the parties involved, beyond the conflict. Nonviolence also calls upon the courage of those who are working to carry it out to bring about change. While they may experience violence themselves, they are not willing to carry it out against others. In nonviolent, as in violent actions, there may be casualties. Historically, the number of casualties in nonviolent actions has been far, far fewer. By refusing to surrender to fear, by refusing to be intimidated or defeated, by not carrying out violence against those who are violent against them, and by looking those carrying out violence against them in the eyes, practitioners of nonviolence and nonviolent movements can help to remove the support which any social order or system rests upon. By recognizing the humanity and basic needs of those presented as our ‘enemy’, by transcending the concept of enemy and recognizing the conflict and the violence itself as the challenge which must be overcome, nonviolence opens for overcoming cycles of violence, and finding effective paths to peace, and well being, for all. This may not happen in a day, or a week, or even a year. While many nonviolent struggles have achieved their goals in very short periods of time, they may also be struggles which need to be sustained for years, and some times decades. The challenge is there. The power of nonviolence is that it opens up hope for a future beyond violence, and methods and tools of struggle that can be applied by all of us. It transcends the deep structures and deep cultures of war, and provides a way of going beyond ‘enemy’ images and good vs. evil, zero sum approaches to conflict. Practically, it gives us tools to be the change we want to see”. (On Transcent.org).

He has written and published widely, and is author of The Struggle Continues: The Political Economy of Globalisation and People’s Struggles for Peace (Pluto, forthcoming), co-author, together with Johan Galtung and Carl Jacobsen, of Searching for Peace: The Road to TRANSCEND (Pluto, 2000 & 2002) and Editor of the TRANSCEND book series published together with Pluto Press, Critical Peace Studies: Peace by Peaceful Means. He is currently working on preparing a comprehensive handbook for Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Post-War Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the Journal of Peace and Development and the Executive Board of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and an Associate of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, as well as an advisor to several governments, foreign ministries, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Council of Europe. In 1999 he was founder and Director of the Coalition for Global Solidarity and Social Development, and in 2000, together with Johan Galtung, he was founder of the Nordic Institute for Peace Research (NIFF). Since 1996 he has provided more than 250 training programmes in peacebuilding, development, and constructive conflict transformation to more than 5000 participants in 36 countries. (Read all on Transcent.org).

About two of his latest books:
- Transcend and Transform, an Introduction to Conflict Work, by Johan Galtung – This is a practical handbook to conflict resolution. It shows how to overcome conflicts at all levels – from personal domestic conflicts, to issue-based struggles about race, class and gender, and major international conflicts between nation states or international divides along economic and religious lines.
- Searching for Peace: the Road to Transcend, by Johan Galtung – A critical and piercing analysis of the shortcomings of conventional approaches to conflict resolution, realpolitik, and worsening dynamics of global violence which, if not resolved, threaten even more catastrophic destruction in the future. The book maps the conditions and paths to sustainable peace, and the challenge for peace by peaceful means. (For more see on Transcent).

Searching for Peace, the Road to TRANSCEND, by Johan Galtung, Carl G. Jacobsen and Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen (Pluto Press, 2002), shows master cartography at work. The book is a major achievement in Galtung’s long and distinguished career in peace research and conflict resolution. Here one finds an up-to-date and in-depth account of current global war and peace, as well as a record of active and potential conflicts, all together constituting the social equivalent of the GPS’s digital maps — potholes and all. But there are also driving instructions. More than 45 years of peace and conflict studies have yielded a powerful general approach, evolved and utilized by TRANSCEND – a peace and development network – under the directorship of Galtung. (Read more on globeandmail).

All his books on amazon.


Working together;

The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research TFF;

Non-Violent Peaceforce;

Coalition for Global Solidarity;

Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation Nepal: Towards a Comprehensive Strategic Framework.

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