Overview

To help prevent violent conflicts, the EastWest Institute and its partners will launch the “Global Conference on Preventive Action,” convening experts from governments, international organizations and civil society on December 6 and 7 in the European Parliament in Brussels.

“We’re bringing together a truly global range of experts, from the United Nations to key regional organizations, national players and NGOs,” says Ambassador Guenter Overfeld, Vice President of Regional Security and Conflict Prevention at EWI. “Preventive action needs a review and a new push to overcome international fatigue in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The hope is that participants will walk away from the conference with concrete recommendations for early, effective preventive action.”

For Nick Mabey, advisor to former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and a keynote speaker, the first step for building the political will to prevent conflicts is reframing “small wars far away,” in places like the Sudan and Middle East, as immediate security threats to Europe. “Unless we invest in helping countries manage their conflicts peacefully, troops will have to go abroad,” says Mabey.

At the conference, Robert Manchin, Chairman of Gallup Europe, will unveil Gallup’s latest poll on how Europeans view global security issues. Some highlights: only about a third of Europeans (35%) are convinced that the security of the West is enhanced by being engaged in Afghanistan; 13% of respondents mentioned Russia as a possible threat to Europe, as opposed to 25% who named China.

The conference will also explore how a strengthened trans-Atlantic partnership can be used to stabilize at-risk countries.

Addressing the world’s shifting power balance, one panel will discuss how the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – can and should play a new role in international conflict prevention. Among other questions, participants will consider whether the UN Security Council should be reformed.

Speaking of Brazil, Major General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz declares, “It is not one more country fighting for a chair around the table, but a country to bring new experiences, new examples, new options and a new way to discuss solutions and resolve conflicts.”

On December 7, the conference will address more specialized topics. In the one day-long event, EWI and the Parliamentarians Network for Conference Prevention will convene a conference on the role of woman politicians in Afghanistan, assembling newly elected women MPs to discuss work in light of the reconciliation with Taliban.  Sherry Rehman, a former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting who is leading a a controversial effort to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy lawl, will attend.