The GCSP Alumni Community Discussing the Future of Peacebuilding and Peace Operations

The GCSP Alumni Community Discussing the Future of Peacebuilding and Peace Operations

The GCSP Alumni Community Discussing the Future of Peacebuilding and Peace Operations

Over the past two months the GCSP’s Community Engagement Office, in collaboration with GCSP experts and Swiss Embassies, organised a series of thematic conversations with GCSP Alumni on the nature of the evolving international peace and security landscape. These conversations focused on the question of what impact this new environment is likely to have on the future of conflict prevention, peace operations, and peacebuilding missions and efforts around the world in general, and in Africa in particular. Alumni in Mogadishu, Nairobi, Bujumbura, Yaoundé, London and New York contributed with their insights, from civilian, police, military, policy making, academic and diplomatic backgrounds. A second overall objective of the visits by the GCSP Delegation was to explore possible areas of cooperation in 2023-2024 with international organisations, contributing countries and experts on the strengthening of peace operations and peacebuilding.

Ms Isabelle Gillet, Head of GCSP Community Engagement, highlights the wealth of knowledge and expertise to be found in the GCSP Alumni Community and the added value that community members can provide: “In today’s rapidly evolving environment organisations have to constantly push beyond their core areas of expertise to engage with broader networks and co-create new knowledge by sharing and learning from global perspectives.” The world-wide network of Alumni Community members are ideally positioned to provide this kind of globally focused reflections and thinking.

Mr Bache Kum Efuegheijeh Godwill, a Cameroonian alumnus of the 2021 course on Weapons Law and the Legal Review of Weapons, who recently served as a Protection and Human Rights Monitor with Intersos, an Italian NGO in partnership with the UNHCR that is providing humanitarian aid to the victims of the ongoing conflict in the south-west and north-west of Cameroon, participated in the exchanges and shared the following insight:

The roundtable was extremely rich in content, especially as we discussed addressing the root causes of conflicts, which is key to effective and lasting peace operations. The conversation was particularly relevant in the context of my country’s many security challenges.”

Visit Ambassador
Alumni Roundtable Discussion
at the Swiss Embassy in Yaoundé

The roundtable conversations were led by GCSP experts: Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, Head of Peace Operations and Peacebuilding, and Lt Gen. (ret.) Dr Dennis Gyllensporre, former UN Force Commander for MINUSMA and now GCSP Associate Fellow and Associate Professor at the Swedish Defence University. The conversations in Mogadishu and Nairobi also benefitted from the contributions of Ms Natascha Hryckow, GCSP Associate Fellow and former Coordinator of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Somalia during 2020-2021.

Reflecting on the conversations, Annika Hilding Norberg commented: “Today’s peace operations and peacebuilding work around the world are often challenged for not having sufficient positive impact. Some difficult discussions need to be held. It is important to listen and reflect together with those who have thought extensively about these issues and the difficulties facing current peace missions and efforts. We very much appreciate and thank the alumni for joining us for these conversations, and also our colleagues at the Swiss Embassies that facilitated our visits and kindly hosted the roundtable discussions and meetings.”

The quality and quantity of knowledge and expertise among our alumni is extraordinary and a great source of inspiration. As Ms Ariane Kaze, a Burundian alumna of the 2021 course on Enhancing Leadership for Peacebuilding and President of Women United for Peace in the Great Lakes Region commented: “The roundtable discussion in Bujumbura was a privilege for me, enabling me to meet the members of the Burundian GCSP Alumni Community. Further dialogue is of the utmost importance as we, the members of the GCSP Alumni Community, work to establish a safe environment in the communities in which we live.” Solving the current and emerging challenges requires dialogue – at all levels and between everyone who can make a difference and is committed to doing so.

Finally, the round of conversations on emerging peace operations and peacebuilding were taken to the strategic political level in New York. The GCSP delegation led by the GCSP Director, Ambassador Thomas Greminger, held a series of meetings with the overall purpose of discussing recent and emerging challenges and developments in international peace and security and their implications, with key stakeholders at the UN Headquarters, selected UN member states and leading think tanks. The topic of emerging challenges, policies, and practices for peace operations and peacebuilding was one of the focus areas during the week and, as such, generated timely and relevant insights and perspectives complementing what had been learned and discussed in Africa and London.

One of the most important experiences during the week in New York was the quality and relevance of the conversations with our GCSP Alumni. Indeed, many of the representatives and interlocutors with whom the GCSP delegation met during the week were GCSP Alumni, and in one meeting they were the majority of those present. This was a living testimony to what is possible when individuals decide to prioritise their life learning journeys and seize the opportunity to engage, exchange and grow in dialogue with others – learning from and with “the other”. Together we can make a more impactful, positive difference in support of international peace and security.

Conversation with alumni
in Mogadishu

In anticipation of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeeping on 29 May, the GCSP Community Engagement Office has organised an Alumni Insight event on the topic “A World in Turbulence – What Future for UN Peace Operations?” to be held on 19 May from 12:30 to 14:00. This event is aimed at providing an opportunity to deepen the conversation further and welcomes contributions from GCSP alumni and the wider GCSP community from other regions and contexts. The session will be kicked off by three introductory reflections by Ms Annika Hilding Norberg, Lt Gen (Retd) Dr Dennis Gyllensporre, and Ms Natascha Hryckow, before an interactive conversation and exchange with and among alumni and the GCSP community will be facilitated. You are warmly invited to join us!