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.
The main issue about the involvement of NSAGs in the peace process is legitimacy. Do the groups have enough legitimacy to ensure that the process will be successful? According to the specialists present, NSAGs that wish to be involved in the resolution of the conflicts should have legitimacy among the international community, their social environment and their own rank.
The experts also argued that only one NSAG out of three was able to transform into a peaceful, political party and that the main issue the groups face is the need to overcome the shadow of violence.
If you would like to go deeper in this topic, check out the following in our Digital Library:
- Engaging Non-State Armed Groups by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament and Research (UNIDIR)
- The Challenge of Constructing Legitimacy in Peacebuilding by the Center for International Relations
The UNO-Academia conference was about the role of the UN in collective security. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who was the under-secretary-general for the Peace Support Operation of the UN from 2000 to 2008, opened the conference by stating that the organization needed to adapt to the new risks of the planet.
He claimed that there is a strong operational gap between the will to act and the actual action, especially from the western countries. He also said that even though the UN is not perfect, there is no alternative to it and that the UN is and should stay the main actor in the collective security architecture. He also criticized some countries that follow the policy of “What needs to change so that nothing changes?”.
During the panel that followed this opening speech, various actors, from policymakers to academics, described the role of the UN in the collective security. All of them agreed that the UN is the only actor that has the legitimacy to act on the global level.
More on this topic from the ISN: