A few decades ago, our private libraries started to be filled with a new category of books announcing the obsolescence of war as a human practice. If humans had been able to outlaw duelling or slavery, why not war? Colonial wars were over thanks to decolonisation. Wars opposing major powers had become unthinkable courtesy of assured mutual deterrence. A worldwide process of democratisation coupled with rapidly-increasing economic interdependence and a global agenda – climate change, sustainability, gender parity, technology regulation – was making true Immanuel Kant’s dream of universal peace. For many, the war in Ukraine felt like an anomaly. It should not have, as it is the culmination of a process of deregulation of force in which big powers as well as regional poles and little Spartas have indulged during the past two decades. We know a new international system is in the making, but the confused signals of the recent past strongly blur the traits of the still-to-crystallise system.
Ghassan Salamé is Professor of International Relations Emeritus at Sciences Po Paris and the founding dean of its Paris School for International Affairs. Among other roles, he served as Minister of Culture in the Lebanese Government (2000-2003), United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Senior Advisor (2003-2007), as well as member of the Annan Rakhine State Commission (2016-2017). His most recent assignment was as the UNSG Special Representative in Libya (2017-2020). He is the author, notably, of Quand l’Amérique refait le monde (2005).
This event will be introduced by Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute, and by Anne Hiltpold, State Councillor of the Department of Public Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamedou, Deputy Director and Professor of International History and Politics at the Geneva Graduate Institute, will moderate the discussion.