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Meeting Tomorrow’s Security Challenges

Theme International Security Forum (ISF)
Theme of the International Security Forum (ISF) 2011, courtesy of Tim Wendel, ISN

Can the world find a new blueprint for collective action to resolve global, regional and national challenges, or will shifting power patterns lead to further fragmentation? This challenging question is at the core of the upcoming International Security Forum (ISF) 2011.

The biannual conference’s topic is “Regional and Global Security: Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges Today”. During the three days, speakers and participants will discuss the implications of the economic and geopolitical shifts for the international security agenda on the global and regional level.

  • On the first day, the sessions will look at the future handling of nuclear weapons, at migration and security, and at challenges and opportunities associated with public-private cooperation in security governance.
  • The 24 panel sessions on the second day will explore five different themes: 9/11 Plus Ten, Regional Security: Local Dynamics – Global Impact, Present and Future of Conflict, Human Security, and State Failure / State Building.
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Politics in Motion

ISN Booth
ISN Booth

Greetings from the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Toronto.

In the first time in its 104 years, the meeting takes place outside the US. According to the organizers, this traveling across a border is symbolic for the conference theme “Politics in Motion: Change and Complexity in the Contemporary Era”. The event, consisting of hundreds of panels and an exhibition, looks at what is new, different and unusual in politics today and aims to think about what knowledge is needed to deal with change and complexity and address today’s crucial challenges.

Emotions and Politics

Looking for the unusual in the thick conference program, I attended a panel on neuropsychology and international politics. The panel converged two fields that have been unconnected previously: brain science and international politics.
The presenters advocated the consideration of emotions when studying political decision making. Evidence shows that cognition (thinking) is actually preceded by emotions (feelings). Hence, “rational” decisions are taken on the basis of emotional beliefs. According to the panelists, it is, however, still unknown how cognition and emotions work together in different situations.

What do these findings in brain science mean for political science and international affairs?

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International Relations Security

The Solferinos of Today – Views from the Field

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the event that lay the foundation for international humanitarian law and humanitarian aid. The grueling battle of Solferino saw the launch of Henry Dunant’s campaign that resulted in the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions setting today’s standards for humanitarian law.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC, which owes its existence to Solferino, commissioned an opinion survey about the needs and expectations of people in eight of the most troubled places in the world (Afghanistan, Colombia, DRC, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Philippines).

Not surprisingly, the study concludes that armed conflict causes extreme widespread suffering. Almost half of the people surveyed have personal experience of armed conflict. Numbers are topping in Haiti, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Liberia, where almost everyone is affected. Around half of the people with conflict experience are displaced or have lost contact with a close relative. Almost one-third have lost family members.

Contrary to what we probably would expect, people in these eight countries are optimistic about the future. All the same, anxiety and sadness rises and trust declines as a result of conflict.