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20th Apr 2019

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Finnish MP: 'We need historians to secure peace'

  • The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year in Oslo - new report recommends wide-ranging Nordic co-operation on conflict resolution as key part of foreign-policy (Photo: EUobserver)

Finnish MP Erkki Tuomioja has attended more Nordic council meetings than most politicians, and few can remember him leaving a meeting without delivering a passionate speech or tabling a motion for better peace mediation worldwide.

"I would like to see a much stronger Nordic involvement," he said on Tuesday (9 April) in the Danish parliament, Folketinget, where researchers and politicians from the five Nordic countries met to discuss recommendations for future Nordic cooperation on peace and conflict resolution.

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"History continues to play negative role in many conflicts", Tuomioja explained, suggesting that historians "can contribute substantially to conflict resolution".

The need for peace mediation in the world is clear enough. There were at least 59 armed conflicts recorded last year worldwide.

"We see a decrease of people being killed in armed conflicts but the number of mediated conflicts are decreasing as conflicts tend to become more fragmented, internationalised and radicalised in the sense of religion", Isak Svensson, professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, said.

"It calls for new thinking", he said.

"Peace-building and state building must come together," advocated Christian Friis Bach, Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council

Currently there are estimated 68.5 million people displaced world wide, the highest number since the second world war.

Friis Bach recalled from own experience, how hiring of teachers in Afghanistan had been vital for building a broader sense of belonging to a society and a state in the war-torn country.

"Peace will however not come above, but from below", he added, saying that the Nordics have a special role to play in engaging woman in peace-building.

"That is an area where Nordics can contribute a lot," he said.

Magnea Marinosdottir, senior adviser on gender equality issues to the Icelandic prime minister, recommended addressing the root courses of "masculine militarism" and to secure good governance in conflicted areas.

"If the crop is failing, is it then climate change or the government's lack of ability to address the problem, that is the issue? ", she asked.

Good governance is extremely important when it comes to climate change and in avoiding conflict coming as a consequence of it, she said and named "corruption" a major problem to tackle.

New report

A fresh report launched in relation to the event, New Nordic Peace: Nordic Peace and Conflict Resolution Effort, recommended that the Nordic council step up joint efforts to contribute to peace and conflict resolution worldwide.

One idea is to convene a Nordic Peace and Conflict Summit in 2020 where practitioners, policy specialists and academics working with peace and conflict resolution could share lessons learned, explore areas of working together and come up with recommendations fostered in a bottom-up process.

The report also advised joint training and education and additional resources set aside for peace research.

"The most imminent threat to life on earth is climate change," the report warned and advocated Nordic preventive diplomacy to take a much stronger leadership role in the fight against climate change.

"Climate change is an element in many conflicts", said Christian Friis Bach.

"But never take the responsibility from people who are responsible and provide them with an excuse for military conflict by saying it was a climate conflict", he added, reminding that "resource scarcity has also often led to cooperation".

The report provide inspiration for future Nordic work on peace and conflict resolution but does not have any legal binding effects. The debate also reminded that good ideas and inspiration does not only come from the North and highlighted several times that Ethiopia is a good place to go for inspiration.

The African country named in October a woman, Muferiat Kamil, as its first peace minister in a gender balanced cabinet.

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