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We Care for the Security of European Citizens

Photo: Council of Europe/flickr

Photo: Council of Europe/flickr

It’s Sweden’s turn to organize the annual European Security Research Conference under its Presidency of the EU. The conference will be held in Stockholm 29-30 September 2009 bringing together around 800 representatives from research, industry, European institutions, public authorities and the security sector. This is the event of the year if you’re going to influence the shaping of policies and research options for Europe’s future.

As the world’s leading open access information service for international relations and security professionals, the ISN naturally attends this event. A series of promising European research projects will be discussed in Stockholm and we look forward to contributing our expertise and reach out to an ever wider audience. More news will follow.

Crossmedia Campaigning

Only three days left for 62.2 million eligible Germans to vote to elect a new parliament which, many fear, is likely to result in more of the same, a CDU-led grand coalition government together with the SPD. Out of those 62.2 million, about 3.5 million voters will cast their ballot for the very first time, with around 2.8 million of them members of one of Germany’s leading social networking forums: StudiVZ, SchülerVZ and meinVZ.

Given the dramatic twist of 2002’s German general election when the SPD won with a mere advance of 6.027 votes compared to the CDU/CSU, the attitudes of some millions of voters illustrate that in a democracy every vote counts.

So how to best trace the hard-to-predict political attitudes of young voters? Right, start a massive crossmedia offensive with social networks, public television stations, newspapers, Twitter and YouTube working hand-in-hand to provide a platform with the hardly web 2.0-compatible name of “Erst fragen, dann wählen” (= ask first, then vote).

Fine, let us “ask first” then…

Screenshot of the "Erst fragen, dann wählen" website

Screenshot of the "Erst fragen, dann wählen" website

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ISN Weekly Theme: UN (Ir)Relevance

UN-toilet-paper

Photo: Bernardo Londoy/flickr

On the occasion of the 64th UN General Assembly the ISN asks whether the UN makes a difference in world politics.

In the ISN podcast this week, I ask Ambassador Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein to evaluate the work of the UN. Due to the media’s focus on peace and security, people tend to neglect the UN”s activities in the fields of human rights and development, says Wenaweser.

The UN faces management problems. The five permanent members of the Security Council are unhealthily influential, and this is not only in the Council. Yet, according to Wenaweser, the organization has achieved much, for example in responding to the 2004 tsunami disaster or in promoting international criminal justice.

What else do we offer on the UN?

  • Security Watch features a story by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on the vast agenda facing UN leaders at the 64th General Assembly.
  • In our policy briefs section Eric Rosand of the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation examines the strengths of the UN’s Terrorism Prevention Branch and identifies challenges lying ahead.
  • Rob Jenkins of the Crisis States Research Centre writes on the two-year old UN Peacekeeping Commission and its role in disseminating international norms, in our publications section.

This and more you’ll find on the ISN website.

International Relations Podcasts- The Best and the Brightest

At home or on the go- podcasts, photo: _Morrissey_ /flickr

At home or on the go- podcasts, photo: _Morrissey_ /flickr

In the same vein as our list of interesting international relations actors on Facebook, we put together a list of interesting audio sources for you to explore (again, in random order).

1. Council on Foreign Relations Podcasts

2. London School of Economics Public Lectures and Events Podcasts

3. UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations Podcasts

4. World Radio Switzerland Podcasts on International Relations

5. The Economist Audio and Video

6. Carnegie Council Podcasts

7. C-SPAN Radio

8. New York Times World View Podcast

9. BBC Radio From Our Own Correspondent Series

10. World Politics Review Podcasts

Some, like C-SPAN, provide a live stream of congressional events, speeches and hearings (often on foreign affairs); others offer insights into current affairs drawn from expert interviews, while the Economist, for example, provides audio summaries of their Special Reports and a weekly podcast outlining the key events to look out for in the days ahead. The London School of Economics and the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations provide audio and video files of speeches and public lectures held at the schools on a wide variety of topics and often by high profile speakers.

And remember that we can also be found on the audio airwaves – enjoy ISN podcasts at home or on the go!

Any other podcasters that deserve a mention?

Is Peace (only) a Matter of Spirituality?

Beware of God

Beware of God / Photo : Synaptic Impulse - Flickr

Today is the International Day of Peace. Started by the General Assembly in 2002, it is supposed to celebrate peace worldwide.  According to the official calendar that lists all the events taking place in the world today to celebrate peace, at least 70% of the events are related to spirituality and to religious activities.

I find it quite ironic that peace is associated with religion when most of the conflicts that are currently taking place have at least a religious component if not a religious background: the civil war in Iraq, the insurgency in Afghanistan, civil war in Somalia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the insurgency in the southern Philippines and many more. I understand that religion and spiritual values can breed tolerance, cultural understanding and open-mindedness. Unfortunately this is not always the case and the most belligerent minds and groups often use religion as a justification for their distinctly unpeaceful agendas.

Wouldn’t it be possible to promote peace without including faith in the package? Couldn’t we establish a true understanding and a peaceful world by using different concepts? The ancient Greeks who invented democracy and laid the foundations for our modern civilization were also confronted with the need to make peace. At the time, peace was established on foundations of social justice, sound legislative processes and economic growth.

This ancient understanding of peace is one that the modern world would do well to keep in mind and it could serve as a useful alternative to spirituality for this International Day of Peace.

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