The CSS Blog Network

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.

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.

Mindanao’s Memorandum of Disagreement

Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines

In support of peace? Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines. photo: Mark Navales/flickr

The 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was meant to solve the seemingly intractable and bloody conflict raging, for decades, between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was meant to give the disenfranchised and marginalized Muslim minority of the southern Philippines a homeland, self-rule and near-equal status with the Philippine central government after centuries of bloodshed. Instead of bringing the conflict, which reflects a centuries-old stuggle, to an almost clinically clean end, the collapse of the MOA-AD in the summer and fall of 2008 revealed the deep fissures at the heart of the conflict and laid bare the government’s inability and unwillingness to push through a potentially momentous peace deal.

The Memorandum of Agreement had, almost overnight revealed itself as little more than a fractured ‘Memorandum of Disagreement’ devoid of real political backing or popular support. » More

Crisis and Risk Network: Critical Infrastructure Protection

Critical Infrastructure Protection / Crisis and Risk Network

Critical Infrastructure Protection / Crisis and Risk Network

“Critical Infrastructure Protection,” is the latest publication from the Crisis and Risk Network. The work examines different concepts of critical infrastructure protection.

The publication reviews new knowledge on the issue from 2008 and 2009 from a variety of western states, focusing on cybersecurity, international cooperation and public-private partnerships.

The publication subsequently discusses strategies to improve critical infrastructure protection. The authors analyze the advantages of highly flexible public-private partnerships and inter-organizational networks.

The article concludes by listing the implications for Switzerland and features an annotated bibliography with relevant research.

The Consequences of German Decisions

Small button, big consequences / Photo: Steven De Polo, flickr

Small button, big consequences / Photo: Steven De Polo, flickr

After the German-directed ISAF air strike on two fuel vehicles stolen by the Taliban reportedly cost civilian lives, public calls for clarification are accompanied by both palsy and hectic in Berlin. Federal elections will take place in less than 3 weeks.

What often happens when things go very wrong is that people engage in speculation and search for a scapegoat. Too seldom though, we see people take responsibility, especially in politics. Clausewitz wrote that war never is an end in itself and always serves a political purpose. Imagine now a trigger in the hands of a German soldier serving in an army with a heavy legacy; an army from a pacifistic, self-traumatized post-war state, in which military planning, strategy and even tactics are subject to widespread emotional discussions. How much politics can efficient tactics bear? » More

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