Understanding International Conflict and Security


New Agendas for Peace Research, Elise Boulding, (ed.), (Boulder, Colorado: Kynne Rienner Publishers, 1992), 199 pp.

TOPICS:

Understanding core interests; Justifying aspirations; Public education/ grassroots organization; of general applicability to environmental problems; written for first and third party participants.

ABSTRACT:

New Agendas for Peace Research examines issues of global conflict and security in the post-Cold War era. This collection of articles reexamines traditional concepts of security, and describes new approaches to national and international conflict resolution.

New Agendas for Peace Research will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of contemporary security issues and peace research. This work is divided into thirteen chapters in three parts, with an epilogue by Elise Boulding. An appendix lists addresses for International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Peace Education Commission and related study groups. The essays in this collection were originally presented at the IPRA's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Conference, at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

The essays in Part One explore current conflicts. Hylke Tromp analyses the aftermath of the Cold War. He argues that the end of the Cold War has actually exacerbated global security problems, as all nations are increasingly militarized and the superpowers turn their attention toward domestic issues. Eva Senghaas-Knobloch investigates the role of enemy imagery in ethnic, racial and religious conflicts, and describes the new social learnings which are needed to sustain multiethnic societies. Solomon Nkiwane discusses the role of self respect in the post-colonial context. Birgit Brocke-Utne considers the impact that sexism and the exclusion of women have had on civil conflicts. She describes the unique resources which women might bring to conflict resolution. Kumar Rupesinghe argues that the traditional boundaries between internal and external state conflicts are disappearing in modern conflicts. Ethnic conflicts undermine the paradigm of interstate relations, on which much of international relations theory is based.

Part Two reconsiders what is meant by security. Randall Forsberg argues that reliance on high-tech military force actually undermines global security by encouraging arms races. Stable peace and security would be better pursued by relying on nonoffensive defense strategies and international peacekeeping forces. Lothar Brock argues against extending the notion of security to include economic or ecological security. Theorists should continue to emphasize military security, or risk conflating all conflicts with war. Contrary to Brock, Patricia Mische argues for extending the notion of security beyond a narrow military definition. Security should be seen as an ongoing process in a total systems context. Ursula Oswald discusses economic threats to human well-being, focusing on the suffering of the Third World, and calls for an approach to security which responds to such threats.

Part Three explores new developments in the field of conflict resolution. Winifred Byanyima describes the approach to conflict resolution and civil restoration taken by the Uganda National Resistance Movement. Hendrik van der Merwe and Andries Odendaal describe their attempts to develop a grassroots culture of conflict resolution in post-apartheid South Africa. Juergen Dedring discusses four United Nations' good offices missions, in Afghanistan, Namibia, Central America, and Cambodia. Dedring argues that these missions have made some progress, and that good offices missions show good potential for encouraging conciliation and conflict resolution. Riitta Wahlstrom discusses the culture of militarism, and the challenge it poses to peace education. Militarism permeates the values and institutions of civil society. Before we can begin to reform civil society toward peace-building, we must first understand the extent to which militarism shapes our present culture.

New Agendas for Peace Research offers a thought-provoking and highly accessible introduction to contemporary peace research.


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