Peace and Security in International Politics Research Network

 

Introduction

Peace and security provide normative benchmarks in international politics. Often, these concepts are positioned as challenges to the conditions and mechanisms of conflict. A hyphenation or an inevitable binary is established in case of peace and conflict or security and conflict. This interlinking stresses on the teleological assumption that both peace and security are needed to counter conflict. The concept of peace has been traditionally defined as political conditions that ensure justice and social stability through formal and informal institutions, practices, and norms. Security on the other hand has been depicted as an ‘essentially contested concept’. From seeking and aggrandizing interests to maintaining status quo to normalizing structured oppositions in world politics, this concept has been viewed from various vantage points. An intersection of these two at the level of conceptual analyses is sought to be answered by this research group. We hope to engage with some of the questions, in addition to many more, while exploring various dimensions of peace and security discourse:

Objectives and Themes

The objectives of this proposed Research Group are as follows:

  • To understand the recent developments in the changing nature of peace and security in international politics.
  • To examine the weaknesses of mainstreaming certain paradigmatic responses to peace and security by state, society and individuals to conflict. In this, an attempt will be made to re-examine the terminologies, concepts and frameworks associated with peace and security such as peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding, securitization, traditional and non-traditional security and others.
  • To comprehend the existing gaps in conceptual frameworks of peace and security in international politics.
  • To combine the learning and research on peace and security to understand the changing nature and new sources of conflict.
  • To engage with and learn from peace activists, community leaders and those contributing in research on peace and security.
  • To expand the understanding of security as both a normative concept and methodological tool to create and establish peace.
  • To continuously examine the policy framework, norms and institutions that influence the discourses around peace and security. 

This Research Network seeks to focus on the following themes over a period of time:

  • New dimensions of peace and security in international politics
  • Terminologies, concepts and frameworks of peace and security
  • Norms and institutions engaged in the peacebuilding and securitization
  • Political economy of peace and security
  • Globalisation and its impact on peace and security
  • Security as rights, liberty and social justice
  • Peoples movements and the role of participatory politics in peace
  • Role of community and culture in peace and security
  • Challenges to peace and security
  • Displacement, Migration, Refugees
  • Political economy of violence and conflict
  • Methods and tools of peace and conflict resolution
  • Alternative Dispute Settlements at inter-state, intra-state, inter-group and intra-group levels

For the development of pedagogical tools and research methods around the aforesaid themes, we aim to periodically organize workshops, symposia, roundtables, seminars and special lectures.

 

Mentor and Patron

Professor Navnita Chadha Behera, Head, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi

Convener

Dr Rityusha Mani Tiwary, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi

Co-Convener

Dr Shailza Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bharati College, University of Delhi

Members of Advisory Committee

Dr Ritambhara Malaviya

Dr Talim Akhtar

 

Events 

National Seminar on “Revisiting Peace and Security in Contemporary World: Interventions from India”

11th - 12th May 2018

Department of Political Science, University of Delhi

The PSIP Research Network is organising its first seminar on “Revisiting Peace and Security in Contemporary World: Interventions from India” will be held on 11th and 12th May 2018.

The international relations (IR) theory has since long grappled with questions of peace and security- that insecurity could be eliminated either by perfecting man or by perfecting governments or institutions. The question of peace in international relations has been endlessly discussed by citizens, thinkers and statesmen struggling to find ways to end forever the wars between nations in the past, and by fear of more terrible conflicts that could come. Historically a preponderance of negative peace or absence of conflict/ war has mostly cultivated blind anti-warism or sentimental pacifism. These formulations on peace found validation in Immanuel Kant’s theorization of Perpetual Peace (1795) where he provided three “definitive conditions” for perpetual peace, each of which became a dominant strain of post–World War II liberal IR theory. Another significant advancement in peace discourse, the neoliberal institutionalism, emphasizes the importance of international institutions (Kant’s “federation of free states”) in maintaining peace. Commercial liberalism emphasizes the importance of economic interdependence and free trade (Kant’s “universal hospitality”) in maintaining peace. Democratic peace theory argues that democracies rarely, if ever, go to war with each other, and thus an executive accountable to the people or the parliament is important to maintain peace (Kant’s call for all states to have “republican constitutions”).

The concept of security on the other hand has always attracted more attention in International Relations. The modern state-system came into existence with the rationale of guaranteeing security to its people. The evolution of the state system has seen several changes in the nature of security practice and contours of the exploration of the concept. However, the degree of relevance of the concept has never decreased. The concept has consistently retained a heightened level of significance.  Security, for most of the part has been related more to the states than to the people.  In the past couple of decades, a number of alternative approaches in the security studies have emerged that try to emphasize its linkage with actors and issues other than the state. The key concepts in IR theory concerning peace and security still refer to ‘absolute/relative gains’, ‘international institutions’, ‘free trade’, and ‘democracy’- primarily through the lens of state.

The referent objects (something that needs to experience peace and/ or be secured) and means to their dual telos continue to focus on the traditional notions of peace and security which is state-military centric. Although the global shift in emphasis on the referents of peace and security finds resonance in the post-colonial/developing world, the post-colonial context complicates the scenario further.  The military expenditure of the post-colonial countries constitutes the dominant component of their  budget while a very large percentage of their population struggles to have minimal access to the basic means of livelihood. In fact, the whole idea of Non- Traditional Security which largely contextualizes the threats in the developing part of the world does not originate in this part rather the developed world has been instrumental in conceptualizing, defining and prescribing solutions for securitizing/ bringing peace. Most of the time, the absence of peace and presence of insecurities are hyphenated and contextualized in terms of their location while the act of formulating conceptual categories is decontextualized, prescribing universal values.

This points towards a serious subject-object divide in terms of the delineation of peace and security problematiques. The continued conception of peace as non-war is neither theoretically nor practically interesting as it continuously contributes to insecurity discourse. Subsequently, understanding Peace cultures, Peace Negotiations and Peace building are intricately coupled with security according to this dominant narrative missing a ‘relational approach’ to constitution of threat, violence, conflict and their location.

The rationale of present seminar comes from the preponderance of conventional security over peace which not only limits the scope and framework of peace but also obfuscates a diverse reading and praxis of security. Although, the existing global discourse on peace and security has broadened its scope from conventional to non-conventional areas of security including environmental security, food security, health security; emphasizing the need for a shift away from a state centric and defense oriented approach to a more people centric approach it has not translated to similar shift at the level of its mainstreaming or implementation. This seminar is an attempt to highlight contradictory, fragmented, shifting and ambivalent facets of peace and security. This is an attempt to replace binary logic and its hierarchical oppositional constitutive force in addressing the issues of peace and security. In this regard, creation of alternate epistemes from India becomes one of the vantage points.

Objectives of the Seminar

In this seminar, we look forward to engaging with scholars who are attempting to question, problematize and contradict the pre-established and conventional normativity associated with the dimensions and processes of peace and security. The institutional apparatuses of state and its norms construct and reinforce particular modalities in which peace and security are understood, performed and redressed. This process is continuously essentialised wherein binaries of hard/ soft , conventional/non-conventional, peace /conflict, dominance/ subversion are created to ease the task of ‘governance’ within socio-political, cultural and economic institutions. The experience of this process of institutionalised peace and security is multi-layered with inter-sectionality of religion, class, region, ethnicity, caste and gender-sexual identities.

Different processes of international and domestic law such as—interpretations by judges, actual practices of courts, law offices and police stations—define and determine impact of peace and security in the lived experiences of the people. In this seminar we look forward to address these intersectionalities which would help to critically explore different sites of peace and security not only in terms of violence and conflict but peace cultures. Issues of marginalities created due to essentialised notions of peace and security are also focus of this seminar where people on the margins are violated, exploited and discriminated against their inherent right to life, all the while being subsumed under the notion of establishing peace and providing security.

This seminar aims to engage with the following questions: What is the meaning and relevance of the two concepts of Peace and Security contemporary world? What is the nature of dominant espistemes in peace and security? What kind of discourses, narratives and processes emerge from the dominant epistemes on peace and security? How do these discourses, narratives and processes impact human condition in varied locations? What are some of the possibilities of alternative episteme/s?

Some additional queries in this regard include:  Do we have a conceptualization of peace and security that meaningfully intervenes to improve human condition? If yes, then what are its content(s)?  What are the means and ends to realise these concepts? The alternate episteme/s of peace and security need to take stock of these ontological positions.

In this backdrop, the seminar will focus on following themes:

I. Peace and Security: Conceptual Explorations

II. Issues in Security: Mainstreaming People’s Concerns

III. Issues in Peace:  Locating the Subalterns

IV. Dilemmas of Security: The Processes and Outcomes

V. Possibilities of Peace: Some Indian Contributions