UNU-UNESCO Conference on Wars in the 21st Century

News
  • 2014•03•25     Paris

    As part of a new series of events organized by the United Nations University in collaboration with UNESCO, a group of eminent personalities and academics gathered in Paris on 27 February 2014 at a one-day conference entitled “Wars in the 21st Century (2001–2014)”. The discussions were wide ranging and covered the responsibility to protect, sovereignty, and long-term responsibilities of the international community.

    A short summary of the event has been prepared (below) in French by Ambassador Daniel Rondeau, the Representative of the UNU at UNESCO. An article about the conference written by Alain Barluet appeared in Le Figaro on 17 March 2014 with the title “Les interventions militaires aident-elles à résoudre les crises?” The article is accessible online in French (behind a subscription paywall).

    The next event will take place on 12 June 2014 on the topic of War and Heritage (Guerre et Patrimoine).

    21st Century Wars 3 UNU-UNESCO

    From left: Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister of France, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte (partially hidden), former Brazilian diplomat, Mohamed ElBaradei (partially hidden), former Head of the IAEA, Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister, Eleonora Mitrofanova, Russian Ambassador at UNESCO, Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister and founder of Medecins sans Frontieres, Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary General, and Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO. Photo: P. Chiang-Joo/UNESCO

    Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister

    Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister. Photo: P. Chiang-Joo/UNESCO

    21st Century Wars 2 UNU-UNESCO

    From right: Mohamed ElBaradei, former Head of the IAEA, Eleonora Mitrofanova, Russian Ambassador at UNESCO, Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister of France, Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister, Mats Berdal, professor at King’s College London, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, former Brazilian diplomat, and Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister. Photo: P. Chiang-Joo/UNESCO

    French summary

    Pour la première des rencontres organisées conjointement par l’UNU et l’UNESCO à Paris, nous avons choisi d’évoquer les nouvelles guerres du XXI eme siècle. Sujet toujours d’actualité, car la guerre accompagne le destin des hommes. Comme le disait Albert Camus, l’Histoire est à la fois passionnante et effrayante. Les guerres suivent souvent les pentes des époques qu’elles en endeuillent.

    Totalitarisme, fascisme, guerre de masse, ont été les fléaux du siècle passé. L’écrivain français Gustave Flaubert, qui se transportait avec aisance dans la transparence du temps , en avant et en arrière, avait prophétisé pour le XXème siècle la reprise des guerres de race et l’émergence de conflits monstrueux. Les guerres en effet n’ont pas cessé depuis que nous sommes entrés dans un nouveau millénaire. Afghanistan, Irak, Libye, Mali, Somalie, Centre – Afrique, Syrie, etc. Les guerres interétatiques classiques ont laissé la place à des guerres décentralisées, qui échappent souvent au contrôle des grandes puissances. Ces nouvelles guerres du XXIème siècle sont tout aussi tragiques (140 000 morts en Syrie).

    Comment la communauté internationale peut elle réagir à ces types inédits de conflits ? Où en sont le droit d’ingérence et la responsabilité de protéger ? Où s’arrête la souveraineté des Etats ? Peut – on faire la guerre au Mal ? Comment faire face à des fauteurs de guerre insaisissables ? Cette première journée UNU –UNESCO a remporté un grand succès et a été suivie en intégralité non seulement par une grande partie des ambassadeurs accrédités à l’Unesco , mais aussi par un public de choix qui comptait un certain nombres d’étudiants venus de Sciences Po ou de l’Ecole normale supérieure. Prochaine rencontre le 12 juin, Guerre et Patrimoine, l’autre tragédie.

    Daniel Rondeau

    English translation

    For the first meeting jointly organized between UNU and UNESCO in Paris, we have chosen to cover the topic of new wars in the twenty-first century. Wars are part of man’s destiny and are thus, always a topical subject. As Albert Camus once said, “History is both exciting and frightening.” Wars often follow the changing tides of the eras they affect.

    Totalitarianism, fascism, and major wars blighted the last century. The French writer Gustave Flaubert, who travelled with ease between epochs, had foreseen the return of race wars and the emergence of monstrous conflicts in the twentieth century. Indeed, wars have not ceased since we entered the new millennium: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Central Africa, Syria, etc. Classic interstate wars have given way to decentralized wars that are often beyond the control of the major powers. These new wars of the twenty-first century are just as tragic (140,000 dead in Syria).

    How can the international community react to these new types of conflict? Where is the duty to intervene and the responsibility to protect? Where does the sovereignty of states lie? Can we go to war against evil? How can we face up to the elusive warmongers? This first UNU-UNESCO event was a big success and was followed in its entirety, not only by the majority of the UNESCO accredited ambassadors, but also by a distinguished public notably composed of students from Sciences Po and the Ecole Normale Supérieure. The next meeting “War and Heritage”, the other tragedy, will be held on 12 June.

    Daniel Rondeau