The CSS Blog Network

International Peacekeeping in Africa: Conference Roundup

Burundi peacekeepers preparing for the next rotation to Somalia. Photo: US Army Africa/flickr

On 23-24 November, colleagues from our parent organization, the Center for Security Studies (CSS), hosted a two-day conference entitled International Peacekeeping in Africa: Actors and Missions.  The event brought together an assortment of academics and practitioners to discuss a broader range of issues than the conference’s title suggests. And since the majority of the sessions were by-invitation only, today we would like to present a series of brief podcasts that summarize some of the research topics raised and discussed at the conference.

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The CSS at IDRC Davos

Earthquake and Tsunami Japan

Earthquake and Tsunami Japan. Photo: CECAR – Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation R/flickr

Under the co-sponsorship and patronage our colleagues at the Center for Security Studies (CSS), the biennial International Disaster and Risk Conference (IDRC) is making a welcome return to Switzerland. IDRC Davos 2012 will take place from 26 August to 30 August and will bring together the world’s leading risk and disaster experts to discuss a multitude of resiliency-related problems confronting global society.

In particular, IDRC Davos 2012 will provide its participants with expert analyses and opinions from the public and private sectors, international organizations, individual researchers and other risk and disaster practitioners. Plenary sessions will cover a host of topics ranging from urban risks and resilience to risks confronting the agricultural sector. The conference will also host a number of parallel sessions, poster presentations and training courses. Exhibitors include the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection, the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) and the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Reduction (PEDDR).

The event organizers – the Global Risk Forum – expect to attract 1,000 participants from 100 countries. And as the CSS will have a presence at IDRC Davos 2012, we at the ISN thought this would be an ideal opportunity to report on the highlights of this conference and some of the issues shaping risk and disaster management. Accordingly, in early September we will be discussing some of the key findings from IDRC Davos 2012 with Timothy Prior, who is a Senior Researcher within the CSS’s Risk and Resilience Research Group.

For more information on IDRC Davos 2012 go here.

For more information on issues and events that shape our world please visit the ISN’s Security Watch and Editorial Plan.

Nontraditional Security Challenges in Asia

Image: IDSA

Asia’s rise as a locus of international financial and economic power only increases the need to better understand how changes in important structural factors impact security dynamics.  In that context, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses held its 14th annual Asian Security Conference in New Delhi this month. The goal of the gathering, entitled “Nontraditional Security Challenges – Today and Tomorrow,” is “to capture the complex issues involved in Asia’s emergence as the new locus of international affairs in the 21st century and India’s emergence as a factor in the continent’s evolving economic, political and security dynamics.”

The IDSA, an ISN Partner, is an Indian think tank devoted to the study of global strategic and security issues. The organization is funded by the Indian Ministry of Defense, but functions autonomously. It has brought together academics, policy analysts, and officials from government and multilateral organizations, from various Asian countries as well as other parts of the world every year since 1999 to debate upon issues pertaining to Asian affairs.

Opening remarks at the conference were made by IDSA Director General Dr. Arvind Gupta, with a keynote address by Shri Shivshankar Menon, the national Security Advisor to the Indian prime minister. A special address was given by Roza Otunbayeva, former president of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. This meeting addressed the issues of water security, climate change, natural disasters,  energy security, transnational crime, and financial and economic security. Each of these challenges has a related impact on food, water and energy resources, as well as implications for national economies and the movement of people, all of which fall between the short- and long-term and consequently are contributing factors to traditional security threats.

The IDSA is at the forefront of an effort to narrow the perception gap between about the relationship between non-traditional and traditional security issues. The hosting of this conference by an India-based organization is highlighted by the fact that India sits at the cross-roads of several important gateways to global power centers:  including for energy, economic and trade hubs, sea lanes of communication, and maritime power. This point was highlighted by Ajit Doval in the closing plenary session of the 2011 ISF here in Zurich.  Certainly in the case of Asia, the emergence of new threats and the changing context of regional security issues will increasingly become the centerpiece of policy and research agendas around the world.

Talking Security in Zurich: ISF 2011 Starts Monday

Old warrior Hans Waldman watches over Zurich while security experts discuss the future of conflict. Photo: courtesy of Zurich Tourism/flickr

Zurich is famous for its bankers. But next week a different crowd will also populate the city: more than 400 academics, civil servants, military officials and journalists from dozens of countries are expected to gather at the Kongresshaus for the International Security Forum (ISF 2011, 30 May – 1 June). Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s minister of defense, will open the conference on Monday.

The organizers of the ISF’s ninth edition, entitled “Regional and Global Security: Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges Today”, have reacted to recent world events and dedicate the first plenary session on Monday to the revolts and revolutions in North Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula.

Will Egypt regain its natural role as the prominent regional leader? How would a change of regime in Syria affect the regional picture? Will the move towards more pluralistic political systems strengthen or weaken US influence? These are some of the questions that will be adressed by the keynote speakers John W Limbert (US Naval Academy), Volker Perthes (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP), Yossi Alpher (bitterlemons publications) and Fawaz A Gerges (London School of Economics and Political Science).

Nuclear weapons, the migration-security nexus and public-private cooperation are on the agenda for Monday afternoon. The Forum will get more intimate on Tuesday: Invited participants will join one of several thematic tracks, ranging from “9/11 plus Ten” to “State Failure / State Building”. » More

CSS Analysis: Progress in Biotechnology as a Future Security Policy Challenge

The next frontier of security policy? photo: Krystian "Krane" Schneidewind/flickr

In the newest CSS Analysis, Progress in Biotechnology as a Future Security Policy Challenge, Sergio Bonin examines how biotechnological advances might impact security policy in the future.

He notes: “If the synthetic construction and modification of bacteria and viruses should become a reality, a broad range of useful applications in medicine, environmental protection, and other fields would be facilitated. At the same time, however, constructing biological weapons could become easier, and the necessary skills would be available to a larger spectrum of actors. It seems advisable to explore preventive countermeasures at an early stage.”

For more, check out our Digital Library resources on biotechnology.

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