8th International Security Forum

"Coping with Global Change"

Geneva, 18 - 20 May 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces will host the 8th International Security Forum (ISF) from 18-20 May 2009 at the CICG Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.

The 8th International Security Forum is sponsored and co-organised by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs as an official Swiss government contribution to the Partnership for Peace.

Main conference partners and co-organisers include, among others, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies of Geneva, the Center for Security Studies and the International Relations and Security Network at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

We are delighted to invite you and your institution to contribute and to participate actively in this important forum.

The 8th International Security Forum will bring together some 500 experts with security-political background, among them civil servants, diplomats, military, academics, and representatives of international and non-governmental organisations worldwide.

The objective is to create a platform for discussion and dialogue on past, current and future security problems and solutions. The conference will consist of two plenary sessions, six topic sessions and twenty-four workshop sessions.

Participation at the 8th International Security Forum is by invitation only.

Looking forward to welcoming you at the 8th ISF,

Ambassador Dr. Theodor H. Winkler
Director DCAF

Conference Concept

Introduction

At the beginning of the 21st century, the international security agenda is witnessing profound change. We are confronted with a shifting face of violence. We are no longer - or at least no longer primarily - confronted with traditional threats, such as violence between states or coalitions of states. Today, most conflicts are of a non-traditional nature - from intrastate conflict to terrorism. This trend will continue.

Global Change

In an increasingly globalised world, highly dynamic and fluid security challenges emerge that are the product of interlinked, but diverse, causes. Global warming will further encourage migration from the most hard pressed regions in the South towards the North and towards the sprawling urban centres in the South. Growing demographic imbalances will contribute to that trend. Raw material scarcities - from oil to food and water, soon also arable land - are likely to become more acute and may lead to open conflict, respectively to a new form of proxy wars.

Urban violence is on the rise. The nuclear non-proliferation regime (if not arms control in general) is slowly eroding - raising the prospect of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. Religious fundamentalism is on the rise - and so is nationalism. Conflicts leave deep wounds, often including aspects of genocide and violence against civilians, particularly women and children. The problem of residual, almost casual violence in post-conflict situations is steadily on the rise. And there are the explosive remnants of war - from anti-personnel mines to booby traps and unexploded ordnance.

The easy availability of weaponry, most notably small arms and light weapons, the readiness to coerce children into the role of child soldiers, gender-based violence, and the possibility to finance conflict through the trafficking of human beings, drugs, arms, and all sorts of contraband renders conflict for warlords, gangs, ethnic militias, or simply criminal groups an ever more easy undertaking. Organised international crime evolves into a threat of strategic proportions. We are witnessing not only asymmetric warfare, but conflicts between adversaries that pursue asymmetric objectives. The list of problems is almost endless.

The Event

The 8th International Security Forum, to be convened from 18-20 May 2009 in Geneva by the Swiss government, will bring together hundreds of experts from all fields likely to shape our future. The objective is to have a look at the problems of violence in the world in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and dynamic form.

Organised by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (in close cooperation with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, as well as many other partners) the forum wants to make a strong contribution to a better understanding of the steps necessary for conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.

The Central Concept

The forum is, for this purpose, structured in three parts. The first day, 18 May, under the title "Towards an Unruly World?", will be dedicated to the question: which new challenges are looming over the horizon? On the second day of the conference, 19 May, the trends and challenges thus identified will form the subject of some 24 separate workshops - each dedicated to a specific and concrete aspect of the overarching problem. The concluding day, 20 May, will then inquire into results already achieved, lessons to be learned and new approaches needed in order to cope with the future in a globalising world.

The forum's contribution to the international debate is unique in the sense that it will bring together specialists not only from the security sector, but from all areas that will shape our future.
The ISF is financed by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sports, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the participating institutes and organisations.