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“100% increase in courses, a GCSP forging ahead in 2016”

Deputy-Director and Academic Dean Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou reviews GCSP’s record year.

The GCSP has undergone significant changes over the past year. Can you walk us through this process briefly and tell us what the rationale behind it is and what was achieved?

Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou: The GCSP has taken important steps forward in 2015. The 20th anniversary celebrated to great success in May, the move to the Maison de la paix and resulting increased engagement with the partners and changes in the Centre’s team cumulatively represented a natural opportunity for an evolution towards a revamped institution.

At the close of this year, we can see that the transition that was initiated in 2014 has successfully yielded significant quantitative and qualitative results. Specifically, in 2014, the GCSP had run 30 courses. In 2015, 14 new courses have been introduced. In 2016, 16 other new courses will take place. This represents an increase by 100% of the Centre’s educational offering. Attention was naturally paid so that such additions did not come at the expense of quality, and indeed the new courses received an average 5.45 satisfaction rate (on a scale of 6).

Beyond the numbers – which are important – teaching methodologies were fully redesigned on a participant-centric, interactive dynamic approach creating synergies between scholars, practitioners and experts. Finally, courses took place abroad in two new capitals, Bogota and Bangkok, extending the Centre’s reach to Latin America and Asia (courses take place regularly in Africa, the Middle East, the US and Europe).

 

Jean-Marie Guehenno, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG), addresses GCSP's 20th Anniversary conference, 29 May 2015

 

 

Will this be pursued? What is the outlook for GCSP’s executive education offerings next year?

Prof. Mohamedou: It will be. The courses introduced in 2015 – which will all be reconvened in 2016 due to their successful first editions – dealt, notably, with questions such as crisis decision-making, political transitions, artificial intelligence, foresight and strategic planning, new warfare and disruptive technologies, building capacity for the effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, climate change and creative diplomacy.

The second batch of new courses in 2016 will pursue this effort to cover comprehensively contemporary international security by tackling global health security, outer space security, the international law of cyberwarfare, advocacy and political decision-making, corruption, migration, enhancing leadership for women (a focal point on Gender issues was appointed), sanctions, and history and policy-making, notably.

The successful defence attaché courses (delivered in Geneva, Addis-Ababa, Sarajevo, Amman, and Dakar) will be extended to Sri Lanka. A new Alliance for Advancing Leadership in Peace and Security was also launched in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL); it will offer innovative new course and build a community of leaders in this field.

More engagement with ‘la Genève Internationale’ will also take place with dedicated events on Swiss security policy. The changes introduced are not limited to the courses. There is always an effort to addressing the questions with versatility. For instance, the new course on Building a National Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism worked hand in hand with several other initiatives, in particular a high-level policy dialogue held at the Centre last week with representatives from 24 countries, the President of the Human Rights Council and the top ten think tanks working globally on this issue.

 

High-level policy dialogue on preventing and countering violent extremism, 3 December 2015

 

The global security landscape is, as you note, constantly changing. Terrorism, climate change, cyber security are amongst the most critical issues on the international agenda right now. How is the GCSP responding to this? How does the Centre prepare policy- and decision-makers to tackle these challenges?

Prof. Mohamedou: All these issues are now dealt with thoroughly, both in the long courses (which have also been restructured for greater efficiency and a better learning experience) and in different discrete initiatives.

The policy analysis publications have been revamped with monthly releases of the Strategic Security Analysis series and quarterly release of the Geneva Papers, allowing the Centre’s participants and constituency to keep up with the latest security questions.

A new Oxford-style debate series, the Geneva Security Debates, was launched in October to create an environment for focused and lively high quality debate of urgent policy matters (Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, etc..).

 

"Did the West provoke Russia": First Geneva Security Debate, 15 October 2015

 

Finally, the folding in the Centre of a Global Fellowship Initiative has brought new talents to all these efforts generating in turn further synergies. All in all, this helps harness creatively different dimensions in a perspective seeking to constantly push the participants to engage with current challenges on a more demanding level. We believe this is how efficient leaders will come out of the GCSP to tackle a contemporary security policy that is ever more complex and difficult to navigate.