Concluding Remarks: Wrapping Up, the Road Ahead

EDITORIAL, 10 Jun 2009

#66 | Johan Galtung

Keynote Speech, European Commission, Making the Difference: Strengthening the Capacities to Respond to Crises and Security Threats – Brussels 04 Jun 09

This fine conference has 4 tracks–Security and Development, Strengthening Cooperation, Lessons Learnt-Geography; Lessons Learnt-Thematic–with 4 sessions for each on specifics and 16 rapporteurs. My role is to wrap up, presenting an overview indicating roads ahead.

But first a warm thanks for this encounter between the capacities of the EU Commission, the Civil Society and Women buoyed by UNSC 1325 and 1820, reflecting their enormous suffering and great promise.  In the EU with 27 members and the world’s largest economy; fortunately not matched by a military might always leading to decline and fall.

The theme of this conference is “Strengthening Capacities to Respond to Crises and Security Threats”.  Important, but it could become bandages and tranquilizers, ice to lower the temperature, rather than getting at the root causes.  Crises are mainly for us in the West, not for the Rest, like the permanent crisis of the majority of the world’s peoples still due to the colonialism of 11 of the EU members.  Security easily becomes ours, the threats are to us.  There is a paranoia seeing enemies everywhere, adding to Western manicheism and autism; them vs. us, with crises generated by them, not by us.

The root cause of the violence of crises and threats is usually unresolved conflict, so the next conference should focus on “Resolving Conflicts and Building Peace”.  A different approach; to be explained.

An example: the piracy crisis off the Somalian coast and beyond; an unacceptable crime.  But so are 220 trawlers off the coast of a failed state from EU countries like Denmark and Spain, depriving Somalia of seafood export products and food, in addition dropping toxic waste, possibly nuclear.  Operation Atalanta will not solve this but displace mutual aggression to worse places.  Audiatur et altera pars, listen to the other side, find a solution accommodating both.

The tool of conflict resolution is mediation. Five points;

[1]  Resolution Orientation: The root cause of violence is usually unresolved conflict(s).  Identify it|them and find a solution, please!

[2]  Incompatible Goals and Means:  We tend to judge ourselves by our best intentions-goals and adversaries by their worst behavior-means.  Identify their best intentions-goals and look at your own behavior-means; two indispensable jobs, often best done by an outside mediator.

[3]  Mapping the conflict: The actors, their goals|means, and their clashes, incompatibilities – with empathy.

[4]  Legitimizing: testing the goals|means for legitimacy, using Law, Human Rights and Basic Needs as standards – with impartiality.

[5]  Bridging: exploring new social realities under which legitimate goals of all parties may be reasonably satisfied – with creativity.

Having worked on this for more than 50 years (see 50 Years: 100 Peace & Conflict Perspectives, TRANSCEND University Press, 2008, see www, here are some reflections on the 4×4=16 themes:

1,1: Small Arms, Light Weapons.  A US problem. Teaching nonviolent conflict handling in schools–our SABONA project from Zulu I see you–and make media report positive conflict handling not only violence. The right to protect might one day include Americans, against the NRA.

2,1: Building Cooperation in responses to crises.  Three stages: identify underlying conflicts, NGO mediation across conflict borders, state|regional level mediation. If nos. 1&2 work no 3 usually follows.

3,1: Afghanistan at the Crossroads:  The Afghan resistance fights three wars: against secularization, a unitary state run by Kabul, and against being invaded, from Alexander the Great to Oct/07 2001. As time is infinite–Islam will never capitulate–and so is space, the ummah, the war will continue till the last Westerner has left. A Conference for Security and Cooperation in Central Asia might promote a coalition government, Afghanistan as a federation, Islamic Central Asia as a confederation, a basic needs oriented policy for both genders using the Qur’an as a guide, and security through OIL-UNSC cooperation, the latter having low legitimacy as Islam is not in the UNSC veto nucleus.

4,1:  Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear Safety.  Nuclear bombs being civilizational, the road to safety passes through dialogue and mutual learning of civilizations, with the courage to say, “You have a Truth I miss, may I borrow that one and maybe you want one of mine?

1,2:  Reinforcing the Role of Women in Peace and Security: Why not use the best?  But their conflict-solving|peace-building edge may erode as women move up in male-dominated society, with PhDs in fields like law and economics, shaped by male logic; an argument for reshaping them.

2,2:  Co-operating Post-Disaster.  Meaning conciliation, acknowledging the past, concretizing, changing into projects for a future together.

3,2:  Supporting Pakistan.  No idea, but using Pakistan for Western goals will never work; we may be heading for a Rwanda type situation.

4,2:  Energy security: Next Steps. Three problems: phasing out carbons in favor of environmentally sound alternatives, cutting transportation through local conversion, and many conversion profiles geared to local resources for energy equality; not waiting for markets to catch up.

1,3:  Global Maritime Security.  Dense and joint UN-EU-AU patrolling of the coastal waters off the Horn to stop illegal fishing, dropping of waste, and piracy, with apologies and compensation both ways, and efforts at massive reconciliation.  This would be Europe at its best.

2,3:  Climate change.  Not knowing how much is due to changes in the solar system, with glaciers melting the last 10-15,000 years, and how much is human-made is no excuse for doing nothing.  But we should be aware of such gains as the Northwest passage, the greening of Iceland and Greenland and the Siberian coast in calculating costs-benefits.

3,3:  Middle East. Rule of law, meting out sanctions proportionate to the crimes committed in bello.  Removing the causes ad bellum, meaning the occupation of somebody else’s land.  The EU, with its achievement in peace engineering, accommodating Germany after atrocious crimes into a peace region of reasonable equity, diversity and symbiosis is a viable model for accommodating an Israel of pre-June 1967, possibly with cantons on the West bank in exchange for Palestinian cantons in Israel’s Northwest.  The Arabs have already taken many steps, and an opening in this direction might speak to coming Israeli generations.

4,3:  Mainstreaming mediation.  There are many schools.  I stand for dialogue one on one, mapping. Legitimizing (have never encountered a party totally devoid of legitimate goals on which to build), bridging.  Danger: the frequent mistake of engaging two parties only (there are always more, those excluded will sabotage), “getting them to the table” (they are not ready, and feel unfree to talk with other parties listening), and negotiation (continuation of war by verbal means).  Method: dialogue, mutual search, first with mediators, then together.

1,4:  Fragility.  Most likely the cause is negative: the absence of conflict handling in thought, speech and action to be overcome through a civilian culture of solving conflict rather than winning wars.  In the EU that opens for a fruitful dialogue between Commission and Council (with moderates in the former and extremists in the latter?)

2,4:  Enhancing Early Warning.  A formula for early warning: actors high up or low down in pyramids of structural violence inspired by a culture making use of violence legitimate, often by divine mandate.  A small incident may ignite massive direct violence, upward or downward.  Remedy: flatten the pyramid through equitable, symmetric relations of parity; stimulate softer readings of the religions.

3,4:  Strengthening EU-Africa partnership.  Genuine reconciliation for the horrors of colonialism is one way.  Another: symmetry by inviting Africans to sort out European problems, like the present moral crisis in the UK Parliament, and how the EU has handled the No from Ireland. And: by learning from Africa: few European countries have linguistic capacity and inter-cultural peacebuilding experience like Cameroon.

4,4:  Responsibility to Protect.  Definitely, as long as it is not a pretext for a protectorate, and nonviolent methods have been tried.
This cuts both ways, against weapons of mass destruction, and against Warren Buffet’s weapons of mass financial destruction in Wall Street.  Intervention to protect the world against greed and incompetence?

Something similar can be said about some of the EU interventions:

-for Georgia the solution is probably the word heard on the streets in the city attacked by an unholy alliance on August 8 last year, taken from another country straddling an important mountain range: Andorra. wedged between France and Spain, now an independent country;

– for Bosnia probably self-determination for the three communities, pointing to the Croat part joining Croatia, the Serbian part becoming a Republika Srbska, and the Bosniak part a city-state around Sarajevo;

– for Kosova/Kosovo independence as a Swiss style federation with very high autonomy for the Serbian cantons, maybe in a confederation of Serbia, Kosova/o and Albania, may be acceptable and sustainable;

– for Yugoslavia as a whole the future may see some kind of community, certainly not federation or confederation;

– for Aceh so much of the present situation was based on a tsunami flushing all the arms deep down in the ocean.  Once, like the Southern part of Thailand, Pattani, a sultanate at a very high maybe the sultanate archipelago, stretching into Mindanao, could be revived;

–  Gaza: why not simply recognize Palestine, bringing it into the state system even if the borders, like for Israel, have to be defined?  Within, as above, a Middle East Community modeled on the Rome Treaty?

And so on.  And so forth.  For anything to work the day after tomorrow it has to be aired the day before yesterday so that somebody in due course of time can say, “It has always been my conviction–“.

Let me summarize.  Our problems are located in the past, in the present and in the future, or two of them, or in all three.

 There are the traumas of the past, and the method is conciliation with no re as the past of the past was not always that good either.  There are trauma days, months, years, decades, centuries. They are festering wounds deep down in the social bodies, to be cleaned up through acknowledgment, preparing the ground for a cooperative future.

There are the conflicts of the present, and the method is mediation, for conflict resolution.  They are gordian knots not to be cut by brutal violence, but to be unraveled and used for new tissue.

There are the challenges of the future, and the method is peace-building, cooperative, symbiotic-equitable projects producing harmony.

Your Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen: there is work to be done.  But we must see the world more from above and less from our own angle.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 Jun 2009.

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