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International Relations Security

Conference Marathon: Follow Up

Mujahiden/Photo: Erwin Lux/Wikipedia
Mujahiden/Photo: Erwin Lux/Wikipedia

As I told you in my last blog post, last week I went to two conferences in Switzerland: swisspeace and UNO-Academia.

The swisspeace conference focused non-state actors and featured brilliant speakers with first-hand experience with the topic. We listened to a former IRA fighter and various academics that had conducted dialogue between non-state armed groups (NSAG) and governmental forces.

Categories
International Relations Security

Conference Marathon

Swisspeace Annual Conference
Swisspeace Annual Conference

On Tuesday, 3 November I will attend the Swisspeace Annual Conference. The topic is “Rebels with a Cause? Understanding and Dealing with Non-State Armed Groups During and After Violent Conflicts.”

The Swiss NGO has invited some high-level speakers that have field experience in negotiation with non-state actors, such as the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and our partner Small Arms Survey. For more information on non-state actors, you can check the ISN keyword on our website that contains a lot of publications.

Then on the following Thursday, I will attend the annual conference of UNO-Academia on “Collective Security and Maintenance of International Peace and Security: What are the Stakes?”. UNO-Academia is a network between all the Swiss universities that gathers research on UN-related topics.

According to the program, academics will be joined by policymakers to develop a comprehensive approach on the above mentioned question. For a short summary of the concept of “Collective Security”, you can check out this story from ISN Security Watch partner World Affairs Journal by Peter Beinart. The conference will be preceded by a roundtable discussion in which I have been invited to speak:  “Youth Meets the United Nations: Which Role for Youth in the United Nations?”.

Of course, I’ll update you next week with the outcomes of these conferences. If it happens that you are also taking part in the same conferences, it would be a pleasure to meet you there.

Categories
Security Culture

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.

Categories
International Relations

The New Ethical Order

Just one day before the 35th G8 summit in the earthquake-torn town of L’Aquila, Italy, the Holy See released the third encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. who will meet with US President Obama on Friday.

photo: Kevin Dooley, flickr
The passion of Christ / photo: Kevin Dooley, flickr

Being the Holy Father’s first social encyclical, the 144-page “Caritas in Veritate” profoundly examines the depraved morals of market economy, the inhuman side-effects of globalization, consumerism and relativism, the need for a sustainable protection of the environment, the role of media and technology in modern life, the strengthening of workers’ rights and, above all, the imperative of “love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace”.