By Margherita Dacquino
“War is easy. Peace is difficult“Robert Ivie, Dissenting From War
The second day of Geneva Peace Week was themed ‘Moving Beyond Securitization: What Risks (and new horizons) for peacebuilding?’ I had the opportunity to attend two insightful workshops “Turning the Authoritarian Tide: Strategies for Transforming Securitisation” and “Gender Mainstreaming in Arms Export Control: addressing the inequalities in small arms control and conflict prevention”.
Though they addressed different issues, the two workshops focused on challenging the ideology of militarism. This doctrine pervades both autocracies and liberal democracies, portraying militarism and policing as the only available and effective solutions for security, yet hiding the structural discrimination inherent in such ideologies.
The first workshop emphasised the securitarian wave after 9/11 and the following global boost of military power. Jordan Street, UN Policy and Advocacy Adviser at Saferworld, and moderator of the event, began the session by reminding the audience that in 2019, autocracies became the majority form of governance in the world for the first time since 2001. And if this doesn’t worry you enough, Marc Batac from Initiatives for International Dialogue pointed out that securitization has become a shortcut to address structural issues, just as surveillance and policing are becoming the means to address radicalisation.
Anne Charbord, International human rights lawyer, added that securitisation narratives have contaminated the global multilateral framework, counterterrorism becoming a UN mandate. As the COVID19 pandemic along with the refugee and climate crisis have shown, securitisation has pervaded all spheres of society. Lastly, Sophie Haspeslagh, Assistant Professor at Cairo-University, underlined how civil society is taking the highest risks, bearing the material and symbolic effects of the securitarian tide, especially in autocracies where opposition and freedom of press are silenced and delegitimized.
While the picture portrayed appears hopeless, our panelists ended the conversation presenting strategies that might help reverse the tide, such as: prioritizing locally-led solutions and grass-root peacebuilding; establishing an autonomous human rights oversight entity within the counterterrorist architecture; assessing the risks and costs of securitisation, thus showing its inefficacy; shifting the narrative and challenging military-industrial complexes’ hegemony.
The second workshop was on a similar note, but here the approaches were more local. Moderated by Farida Nabourema from GENSAC, the discussion started with Mexico’s case study analysed by the founder and president of 24-0 México, Magda Coss. She pointed out that weapons ownership is a masculine privilege that upholds a culture of violence, within which women are the primarily affected group. Gun control, gender equality, and gun manufacturers’ accountability are indispensable to advance awareness and prevent sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
Jasmina Roskic, Head of the Department of export control and international agreements at the Serbian Ministry of Trade, exhaustively illustrated Serbia’s export control regime; whilst recognizing that both the risk of diversion and assuring women’s participation in arms control remain to be tackled.
Lastly, Carolina de Mattos Ricardo, Executive Director of the Sou da Paz Institute, highlighted the correlation of GBV and firearms in Brazil sharing with the audience some revealing data. It seems that the solutions to these harmful synergies are to be found in the education of civil society, the engagement of existing institutions involved in eradicating GBV, as well as in the increased responsibility of both exporting and importing countries.
Finally, while declaring war on problems may seem the quickest path, the panelists insisted on the need to acknowledge the complexity of today’s challenges, prioritizing human rights within the advanced solutions.
Geneva Peace Week 2021 will be held between November 1st and 5th covering four thematic tracks: Creating a Climate for Collaboration, Moving beyond Securitization, Harnessing the Digital Sphere for Peace, and Confronting inequalities and advancing inclusion, peace, and SDG16. Find more information and registration links here.
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