Every two years, the members of the International Peace Research Association meet at their global conference to assess conflict and peace building in the world; discuss the state of the art of peace research; plan future research, and influence the practice and decision-making of violence prevention and peace building.
The conference is made up of plenary sessions, which focus on specific issues that continue to influence the peace and conflict process significantly, as well as panels and roundtables organized by IPRA's Commissions and Working Groups, plus special events.
Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. From his abstract for IPRA 2010:
"The changing global power equations are reflected in new realities. These include the eastward movement of power and influence, once concentrated in the West; the waning relevance of the international structures the United States helped establish after its World War II triumph; and Asia's economic rise. While the world is not yet multipolar, it is no longer unipolar, as it had been from the time of the Soviet Union's collapse to at least the end of the 1990s â€” a period in which America failed to fashion a new liberal world order under its direction.
"What we have today is a world still in transition. We still do not know what the new world order would look like. The impasse or lack of movement on key international issues, therefore, should not come as a surprise. In fact, the most pressing challenges today are international in nature and thus demand international responses and solutions. Yet the existing international institutions are proving inadequate to deal with such global challenges, in part because such institutions no longer reflect the prevailing power structure. Their representational deficit, and the ensuing impact on their capacity to play an effective, forward-looking role, have become glaring.
"Until the contours of a new world order become visible, the present and emerging global fault lines will continue to signal rising geopolitical risks. The tensions between internationalism and nationalism in an era of a supposed single 'global village', for instance, raise troubling questions. The political, economic and security divides are no less invidious.
"Strengthening multilateralism in such a setting demands improved global geopolitics so as to build cooperative political approaches. Better politics is as important as better economics. Strengthening multilateralism also calls for reform of international institutions and rules. A 21st-century world cannot stay saddled with 20th-century institutions. The challenges the world confronts actually are unique. The issues are new â€” ranging from accelerated global warming to uncontained international terrorism â€” and their reach is truly global."
George Kent is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaiâ€™i. Professor Kent is Co-Convener of the Commission on International Human Rights of the International Peace Research Association, and he has worked as a consultant with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Children's Fund, and several civil society organizations. He is part of the Working Group on Nutrition, Ethics, and Human Rights of the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition.
In his new book, Ending Hunger Worldwide, to be launched at the IPRA conference, George Kent explores and advocates for a different understanding of globalization.
Many people understand globalization mainly in terms of international commerce, dominated by the powerful. On balance the benefits of market-centered globalization favor the powerful. There is another trend, less widely recognized, described as globalization from below. This is based not so much on the exchange of goods as on the exchange of ideas. Much of it is highly political, making extensive use of the Internet and inexpensive travel to build global solidarity among like-minded people.
This alternative perspective has taken hold in debates about how to deal with the widespread malnutrition in the world. With the number of people in the world who are hungry actually going up in recent years, and now exceeding one billion, there is increasing recognition that the top-down models for dealing with hunger have not worked. The repeated variations of world food summits have not helped to solve the problem. There are now increase calls for food sovereignty, and for recognition of the human right to adequate food.
David Kinley is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney. His latest book is Civilising Globalisation (Cambridge University Press, 2009). From the review in the Sydney Morning Herald, by Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and Chair of the Organising Committee for IPRA 2010:
"Wise advocates of a global economy based on private property acknowledge, Kinley suggests, that its success is enhanced by respecting, cultivating, even championing an idea that belongs, at once, to both everybody and nobody: human rightsâ€¦
"Something of the zeitgeist can be discerned, he suggests, in 'splash and dash': a scam by biofuel merchants to ferry huge quantities of biodiesel from Europe to the US, add a bottle of American fuel â€“ qualifying, in the process, for a hefty subsidy on the whole cargo â€“ and thereupon ship it straight back. Such are the hazards of attempting to regulate global trade in pursuit of environmental or social benison, an undertaking that foregrounds distinctions between economic and human rights law. The latter, Kinley says, insists on individual welfare as a presupposition, whereas the former assumes it will naturally arise, providing markets 'function properly'."
Sev Ozdowski is Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies of the University of Sydney, and the Director of Equity and Diversity at the University of Western Sydney.
He is also the former Human Rights Commissioner of Australia.