Dean Sainz-Borgo to pronounce opening address at the Fourth International “Explorations in Peace & Conflict Research” Conference in Finland




Åbo Akademi University in Vasa, home of the Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research, will co-organize with the Center for Global Nonkilling, its fourth international “Explorations in Peace & Conflict Research” conference on March 18-19, 2019 focusing on the topic “Nonmilitarisation and Countries Without Armies. The conference is organized with the collaboration of the Åland Islands Peace Institute (Ålands fredsinstitut) and the Swiss NGO APRED participative institute for the progress of peace and will take place at Åbo Akademi in Vasa, Finland. Admission is free, prior registration, which can be done sending an email to info [at] nonkilling [dot] org

The absence of armies may be surprising in countries where they are deemed to be indispensable for national identity, social control, defense, and offense (Paige, 2002). However, the continuing existence of countries without armies and demilitarized territories throughout the world demonstrates the possibility of  nonmilitary statehood: nonkilling nations are not unthinkable. The topic of this conference follows up on the 2013 book Nonkilling Security and the State developed by CGNKs Nonkilling Security Research Committee and seeks to create an opportunity for further developing its discussions through new evidence and arguments offered by presenters from Costa Rica, Switzerland, Lesotho, South Africa, USA, Spain and the Åland Islands.

The event will start out on March 18 with welcoming words by Prof. Kaj Björkqvist (Åbo Akademi) and CGNK Director Joám Evans Pim and a opening address by the Dean of the University for Peace (an international treaty body organization mandated by the UN) Prof. Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo.

The opening lecture will be offered on March 18 by Christophe Barbey, UN Representative in Geneva for the Center for Global Nonkilling and one of the founders of APRED participative institute for the progress of peace where he presently works as a coordinator and head of research. Christophe is specialist in peace policies and infrastructures and a leading expert on countries without armies, having published widely on the subject: Nonmilitarization: countries without armies. Identification criteria and first findings (Mariehamn, 2016); “Nonmilitarisation and Countries without Armies. A Necessary Step toward Nonkilling Security Institutions” (in Nonkilling Security and the State, Honolulu, 2013), etc.  He also works on the place of peace in constitutions, including as an expert for the new constitution of the State of Geneva and on the links between peace and human rights: the human right to peace.

Also on March 18 a key-note lecture on “Demilitarisation as an international and regional tool: Experiences
from the Åland Islands” will be offered by Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark, Director and Head of Research of the Åland Islands Peace Institute (Ålands fredsinstitut) and Associate Professor at the University of Uppsala. Sia has recently co-authored the book Demilitarization and International Law in Context – The Åland Islands (Routledge, 2018) and previously published Justifications of Minority Protection in International Law (Uppsala & Dordrecht, 1997) and co-authored Towards Openly Multilingual Policies and Practices Assessing Minority Language Maintenance Across Europe (Multilingual Matters, 2016). She has served for many years as member of the Advisory Committee of Experts on the Framework Convention on National Minorities of the Council of Europe and was elected as its President in 2012-2014.

On March 19, CGNK Director Joám Evans Pim will offer a lecture on “Taking Nonmilitarisation Seriously: The Alternatives of Civilian Based Defence”, exploring the possibilities for transition from current forms of military (in)security to alternative nonkilling common security arrangements based on civilian based defence. This will be followed by the lecture “Demilitarising Lesotho: rationale and financing”, offered through videoconference by Tlohang Letsie, National University of Lesotho. and Geoff Harris, Durban University of Technology, South Africa. Geoff Harris is head of the Peacebuilding Programme at the International Centre of Nonviolence, Durban University of Technology (South Africa). An economist by training, he has researched issues of military expenditure in developing countries and recovery from armed conflict for many years. His current research interests include the effects of economic inequality on inter-personal violence and the feasibility of demilitarisation for African countries. He is chair of the Board of Phoenix Zululand, which operates restorative justice programmes in the Zululand prisons, and of the trustees of the Alternatives to Violence (KZN) network. Dr. Tlohang Letsie is a Lecturer in Political Science at the National University of Lesotho who has advocated for the demilitarisation of the country.

The afternoon session will be initiated by Piero P. Giorgi, who will offer an anthropological and neuroscientific perspective on “The Recent Origin of Violence and War” and how this provided grounds for confidence on the possibilities of nonmilitarisation. Piero is Associate Professor and Research Associate at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS), University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Since 1967 he has worked in developmental biology and specialised in the development of brain and behaviour in vertebrates since 1970 and humans since 1990. Some of his findings can be read in the book The origins of violence by cultural evolution. This will be followed by a lecture offered by Dr. Benjamin A. Peters on the topic “Securing the Right to Peace through Demilitarization: The Case of Costa Rica”. Benjamin A. Peters is Director of the Global Scholars Program at the University of Michigan and has previously served as Vice-Presidente and Dean of the School of International Liberal Arts at the Miyazaki International College, Japan. Recent publications by the author on the subject of this conference can be found in Peace Ethology: Behavioral Processes and Systems of Peace and Nonkilling Security and the State.

The closing lecture will be given by Dr. Gene Keyes on “To Give Life: A Nonkilling Military: Precedents and Possibilities”. Gene is a long time peace activist, draft resister and advocate of nonviolent defence. Keyes’s 1978 Ph.D. thesis was Strategic Nonviolent Defense in Theory; Denmark in Practice. A condensed version appeared in The Journal of Strategic Studies as “Strategic Nonviolent Defense: the Construct of an Option”. In this work, he identifies morale as the center of gravity for a country nonviolently resisting an invasion by an enemy. The latest version of Keyes’s long-term interest in a nonviolent military was published as a chapter of the book Nonkilling Security and the State, where he elaborates ten kinds of missions for unarmed forces, including such obvious ones as Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (HA/DR), and hypothetical ones such as Defense in the spirit of Brazil’s great national hero, Major-General Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon (1865-1958), who fostered the motto “Die if you must, but never kill”.

Preliminary program

Monday, March 18

  • [Morning: Pre-conference seminar with Åbo Akademi Peace graduate students]
  • 1:00 pm: Inauguration and opening words by Kaj Björkqvist (Åbo Akademi), Joám Evans Pim (Center for Global Nonkilling) and Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo (Dean of the University for Peace).
  • 1:30-2:15 pm, Opening lecture: “Nonmilitarisation and Countries Without Armies”, by Christophe Barbey (APRED)
  • 2:15-2:45 pm, Debate, Q&A
  • 2:45-3:00 pm, short break
  • 3:00-4:00 pm, Key-note lecture “Demilitarisation as an International and Regional Tool: Experiences from the Åland Islands”, by Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark (Ålands fredsinstitut).
  • 4:00-4:30 pm, Debate, Q&A and general discussion

Tuesday, March 19

  • 09:30-10:30 am, “Taking Nonmilitarisation Seriously: The Alternatives of Civilian Based Defence”, by Joám Evans Pim (CGNK)
  • 10:30-10:45 am, Debate, Q&A
  • 10:45-11:00 am, short break
  • 11:00-11:30 am, “Demilitarising Lesotho: Rationale and Financing”, by Tlohang Letsie (National University of Lesotho) and Geoff Harris (Durban University of Technology).
  • 11:30-11:45 am, Debate, Q&A
  • 12:00-1:30 pm, lunch
  • 1:30-2:15 pm, “Good News for Disarmament: The Nonviolent Nature of Human Beings”, by Piero P. Giorgi (University of Otago, Dunedin)
  • 2:15-2:45 pm, Debate, Q&A
  • 2:45-3:00 pm, short break
  • 3:00 pm-3:30 pm, “Securing the Right to Peace through Demilitarization: The Case of Costa Rica”, by Benjamin A. Peters (University of Michigan)
  • 3:30-3:45 pm, Debate, Q&A
  • 3:45-4:15 pm, Closing lecture “To Give Life: A Nonkilling Military: Precedents and Possibilities”, by Gene Keyes.
  • 4:15-4:30 pm, Debate, Q&A and general discussion

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