The symbol originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement is now widely used.
A number of peace symbols have been used many ways in various cultures and contexts. The dove and olive branch was used symbolically by early Christians and then eventually became a secular peace symbol, popularized by Pablo Picasso after World War II. In the 1950s the "peace sign", as it is known today, was designed as the logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and adopted by anti-war and counterculture activists in the United States and elsewhere. The peace sign was first used in the United States.
The olive branch
The use of the olive branch as a symbol of peace in Western civilization dates at least to the 5th century BC. The olive tree represented plenty, but the ancient Greeks believed that it also drove away evil spirits. The olive branch was one of the attributes of Eirene, goddess of peace.
The Romans believed there was an intimate relationship between war and peace. Appian describes the use of the olive-branch as a gesture of peace by the enemies.
The dove and olive branch
The use of a dove and olive branch as a symbol of peace originated with the early Christians, who portrayed the act of baptism accompanied by a dove holding an olive branch in its beak and also used the image on their sepulchers. The dove appears in many funerary inscriptions in the Roman catacombs sometimes accompanied by the words in pace.
Christians derived the symbol of the dove and olive branch from two sources: Greek thought, including its use of the symbol of the olive branch and the story of Noah and the Flood. The story of Noah in the Hebrew Bible ends with a passage describing a dove bringing a freshly plucked olive leaf a sign of life after the Flood and of God's bringing Noah, his family and the animals to land. Jews never used Noah's dove and olive leaf as symbols of peace.
In the earliest Christian art, the dove represented the peace of the soul rather than civil peace.
The broken rifle
The broken rifle symbol is used by War Resistance International (WRI). In 1915 it appeared on the cover of a pamphlet, Under the Broken Rifle. The (German) League for War Victims, founded in 1917, used the broken rifle on a 1919 banner.
In 1921, Belgian workers marching through La Louvrière on 16 October 1921, carried flags showing a soldier breaking his rifle.