Peacebuilding: Where Do We Go from Here?

EDITORIAL, 14 Jun 2021

#697 | René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

Early June has seen a series of meetings by leaders of governments that may help to clarify what are the next steps that that non-governmental peacebuilding groups should take. From 11 to 13 June, the G7 States met in a summit. On 14 June, the NATO leaders meet. On 16 June President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva.  The tensions concerning Belorussia, while not crucial in themselves, will no doubt color the atmosphere as does the Western sanctions on President Alexander Lukashenko.

Government ministries, security agencies and highly placed advisors have been working on position papers for all these meetings.  Largely absent are the recommendations of non-governmental organizations (NGO) devoted to conflict resolution.  There is a good bit of analysis of intergovernmental relations done by NGOs but our influence is small in these governmental summits.  We can hope that these meetings “clear the atmosphere”. While the impact of governmental leaders on each other is limited, beyond “photo opportunities”, personal relations can open doors to somewhat better relations.

While talk of a “New Cold War” is overly dramatic, there are real structural tensions that have been there for a long time and that will not be easily overcome. Recent events in the Middle East, the future of Afghanistan and its impact on the wider Pakistan-India-Iran area, the future of the two Koreas – all are fundamental issues related to the balance of power at the regional and world levels.  The tensions related to the Chinese delimitation claims in the South China Sea as well as China-Taiwan relations are structural issues which influence Western policy toward China as well as Chinese attitudes toward the West.  While it is unlikely that climate change, biodiversity, and migration issues get more than a passing mention, the ecological background to world politics is real and merits sustained attention.

It is certain that governments beyond the circle of those participating directly are also looking at the outcome of these meetings.  The European Union has a working group on relations with Russia which should make a report at the end of June.

For peacebuilding NGOs, there is a crucial need to develop policy recommendations that take into consideration the outcome of these meetings.  While long-range policy recommendations are useful (too much money is spent on arms) there needs to be middle-range recommendations related to continuing conflict tensions, both the individual and the interrelationship of tension areas.  The summits may help us to see more closely where we go from here.


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Jun 2021.

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One Response to “Peacebuilding: Where Do We Go from Here?”

  1. I read with interest the article by René Wadlow and find it amusing that two people working for a better world can think so differently!

    It is clear René believes politicians are ‘also’ working for a better world and the only problem there is they don’t know how to do it and need recommendations from peacebuilding NGOs.

    Myself, with 7 years in Geneva and close relationship with UNO, think that politicians and diplomats know very well what to do and do it to perfection. This is because to them, a ‘better world’ is the one where military goods are produced, sold, bought and used. For this they spend billions on scientists to develop the most sophisticated – and expensive – killing toys.

    Politicians are neither ignorant nor stupid. They know the military industry can only do well if it kills people, destroys buildings, families, economies. Why is a soldier trained to kill? to offer a rose, cappuccino or glass of wine to the enemy his Government sent him to play war with?

    René says “talk of a “New Cold War” is overly dramatic,”. To me these are the most ominous words heard during thew G7 Summit. In fact, Boris Johnson said ‘I don’t want a Cold War with China’. These words mean, in political language, “I want a real war”.

    Things will get worse unless we abolish militarism, the militarization of the planet