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14 October 2022

Peace Is Possible

From 31 October through 4 November 2022, the Geneva Graduate Institute will host Geneva Peace Week 2022, which brings together international peacebuilding organisations and international partners to share knowledge and practice on topics related to promoting peace across contexts and disciplines. Annyssa Bellal is the Executive Coordinator for the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, a knowledge hub connecting peacebuilding actors, resources and expertise in Geneva and worldwide, and main organiser of the Geneva Peace Week.

What role does the Geneva Graduate Institute play in Geneva Peace Week?

The Geneva Graduate Institute's Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) is a core founder of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP). As such, the CCDP is part of the team that decides on the themes to be addressed during the Geneva Peace Week.

This year, the CCDP leads one of the tracks on 'Moving beyond securitisation: Risk management and new horizons for peacebuilding'. CCDP Director and Institute Professor Keith Kraus will also speak during the first panel of the Week’s opening day, along with other directors of the founding members of the GPP.

The Institute also offers an essential aspect of the GPW: the space and venue where notably the opening and closing days of the GPW will take place (in the big Auditorium), in addition to other conference rooms for workshops and other activities. As such the Institute provides the GPP team with essential support, in terms of logistics and organisation. Finally, many Institute students participate in the GPW, including as assistants and are thus a key component of the Week. 

The theme for this year’s Geneva Peace Week is “Peace is Possible”. What conversations and ideas do you hope this year’s theme will engender?

This theme was notably chosen in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, but also with regard to other long lasting conflicts in so many parts of the world that seem to go in the opposite direction of peace.

There are many actors, civil society, NGOs, International Organisations and States in Geneva and all over the world that work relentlessly to find solutions to these life-threatening issues. The GPW gives a voice to these actors to present and discuss their actions, projects or initiatives, so that we can be reminded, as a community – against perhaps a feeling of desillusion and pessimism – that peace is possible, even in the circumstances we are living in and that we must continue finding efficient and sustainable means to build it. 

What are the main issues preventing peace in different corners of the world today and how does the Geneva Peace Week provide solutions to those issues?

The main issues have been known for a long time: human rights abuses, discrimination or poverty, which lead to conflicts. Climate change is a major driver of displacement, it impedes growth and development by impacting agriculture, food, water and energy supplies.

Violations of international law, including international humanitarian and criminal law will diminish the chance of reconciling communities torn by conflicts. Armed violence, and the circulation of weapons destabilise societies and cities. The immense space that technology occupies in our lives can be both a tool and a threat for peace, if we don't find ways to address manipulation, propaganda, disinformation, trolling, or data attacks to name a few.

This year's GPW addresses all of these issues and provides a safe space for discussion, where peacebuilding actors – understood broadly – that work in human rights, development, tech or security can present their ideas and projects. By bringing all of these actors together in Geneva and online, the GPW strives to create and foster collaborations and processes that might contribute to finding solutions to reinforce sustainable peace at different levels, local, regional and global.