Director of "swisspeace" gave a speech at "KITABISTAN TALKS"

Another "KITABISTAN TALKS" event took place on the 23rd of June.
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At the recent event hosted by Kitabistan, Professor Dr. Laurent Goetschel, the director of “swisspeace” peace research institute and a professor of political science at the University of Basel, was a guest speaker. During the conference on "The Importance of Peacebuilding in Times of Geopolitical Changes," Professor Goetschel delivered a speech highlighting the activities of “swisspeace”, emphasizing the importance of peace, discussing ongoing conflicts, and sharing insights on practical peacebuilding efforts.


Shahriyar Majidzade, the co-founder of Kitabistan, opened the conference with an introductory speech and spoke about the conference's importance:


“We all have something to learn from one another, and positive examples can be particularly instructive. I would like to share two examples of sustainable peace in the world. One standout example is the European Union model, which proves that even wars lasting for hundreds of years can be resolved with the initiative of just two people. This is the Schuman-Adenauer example.

The second example dates back to earlier times; it is about Switzerland. Switzerland is a multicultural country with four official languages. The country has a complex political structure, and each canton and community enjoys autonomy over their own affairs and authority. Despite this complexity, Switzerland has been one of the most progressive, stable, and peaceful countries for the last 200 years. That is why we have invited Prof. Goetschel, the director of "swisspeace" to join us at this conference.”



"We bring a lot of people together. Like here tonight"


After Shahriyar Majidzade's opening speech, Professor Laurent Goetschel took the floor and provided a brief overview of the history and activities of "swisspeace":


“The most important part of the specific profile of our organization is, we are not just researchers, but we are also not just practitioners. We try to link the two. And this relates to the mission statement of swisspeace, which is about improving the way peacebuilding activities are implemented in the world. We look at what is being done, we try to evaluate what is being done. We also design research questions out of what we observe. We conduct these research independently and spread the news whatever they are. We have on one side, research. But we also advise practitioners.

We bring many people together. A bit like what is happening tonight here. And then we try to learn together. And then we share and shape our experiences with different actors in the field of peacebuilding.”


Later, Professor Laurent Goetschel spoke about the concept of peacebuilding:


“Actually peace building is not about avoiding all kinds of conflicts. Because conflicts are part of human interaction, social interaction. We all know this from each other and from our experiences. The challenge or objective of peacebuilding is to prevent a non-healthy escalation of conflicts into so-called organized violence. So when a society, or states, or whatever entity we are looking at manages to deal with conflicts in a way that they are capable of preventing war, they may have achieved the objective of peacebuilding. And peacebuilding follows the aim to learn more about how to do this.”


The professor stated that the recent geopolitical changes make peacebuilding even more complicated:


“We do have single conflicts, like Israel-Palestine or Russia-Ukraine which have global repercussions and vice-versa. Meaning that these conflicts impact far away from wherever they are taking place.”


Professor L. Goetschel quoted from the British historian David Chandler:


“Several years ago, long before the war in Ukraine, he wrote a paper about the need for radical democratization of peace and security. What he actually meant was the fact that security and peace should be thought far less top-to-down - from the global level to the local level, but should be thought much more bottom-up, from the local level to the global level. Meaning that peace ideas, peace programs and peace-related activities should grow bottom-up. So this is a nice idea. The question is, to what extent is this realistic in the world as it exists?”



Women's participation in peacebuilding




Answering a question about the role of women in peacebuilding, the professor stated that the low participation of women in this process leads to non-inclusion:


“Trying to have more women involved in such processes, meaning mediation or other processes is a door opener for generalized better inclusivity. And for this it is also so important for peace processes within and without. And there have been first steps of openness in this regard. We are involved directly or indirectly into what is happening now in Columbia. And there have been written and published since about the high degree of inclusion of women and other minorities in this process. At least until now things are not moving too bad. I think such positive examples will have an impact.”







At the end of the conference, Professor Laurent Goetschel, Director of "swisspeace", was awarded Honorary Kitabistan Citizen for his contributions to conflict research, promoting peace, and peacebuilding.