Summer Workshop in International Organization Studies
“Civil – Military Relations in Peace Missions”
July 19 – July 28, 2010
Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), Switzerland
Conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction have evolved. It is no longer the case that civilian and military actors intervene in isolation from each other. Increasingly, soldiers, peacekeepers, development workers, and others must combine forces in an “integrated” approach. While such an approach arguably produces more effective and holistic peace operations, it blurs the distinctions between the various actors.
At stake is the ability of military and civilian actors to work together in the field without jeopardizing their respective identities, strengths, and capacities.
- How best can military and civilian actors cooperate in the field without jeopardizing their identity, effectiveness, and security?
- What is the added value of the military in humanitarian tasks?
- How do the concepts of “integrated mission” or “comprehensive approaches” influence civil-military relations?
- What lessons do particular cases of civil-military coordination (Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, etc.) teach us?
- Are they generalizable beyond their specific context?
- How does the privatisation of some security actors influence the civil-military interface?
- How is the humanitarian-military interface perceived by local populations?
Since 1991, the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), currently headquartered at Wilfrid Laurier University, has held an annual summer workshop in a different location on a specific theme. In 2010, the workshop will be held at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) in partnership with the American Society for International Law (ASIL). The theme is Civil-Military Relations in Peace Missions. Our overall objective is to explore the challenge of preserving humanitarian space in contemporary peace operations.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the ACUNS summer workshop is that it brings together a small number of young scholars, working on topics relating to international law, international organization, and international relations, with a similar number of young policy staff from inside the United Nations system in an intimate working setting. In recognition of the value of this approach as a training tool, the UN supports the ACUNS summer workshop by selecting candidates from UN agencies and offices across the world and paying for their travel to the workshop location. The young scholars are chosen by a selection committee, comprised of the workshop co-directors, the ACUNS Executive Director, and an ASIL representative. The young academics, too, come from across the globe. Both selection processes – for the scholars and for the UN staff – are competitive. A call for applications goes out in December of each year and applications for participation are reviewed in March. The competition is also open to NGO staff.
The interaction across the academic/practitioner boundary that the summer workshop allows is rare, yet crucial. Building bridges so that those who are studying international cooperation are in conversation with those who are on the front lines trying to make it happen, is beneficial to all concerned. The international public policy staff learns from the in-depth, empirical research taking place in universities while the researcher profits from the experience of the practitioner who has first-hand knowledge of what works in the field.
The workshop typically runs for ten days, giving participants an extended period during which to interact with each other, with the workshop co-directors, and with the expert guest speakers. Each participant has an opportunity to present his/her research to the group and receive collective feedback. The ten-day format also allows ample time for each participant to have sustained, one-on-one attention from the co-directors and unparalleled access to the expert guests, a format that has proven very effective for training and networking purposes.