Radio Peacebuilding Blog

2nd Blog-Entry

I’m sorry that it took a while for the new blog-entry. The theoretical work always takes a while.

However, I finally found the political theory that explains in my view the failures of the international community in peacebuilding after the Cold War.

I will refer to Mary Kaldor’s theory on New and Old Wars. It is hard to explain a theory in just a few sentences but I’ll give it a shot (even with the danger of oversimplification).

Mary Kaldor’s writes that most wars nowadays are deeply embedded in the structures of globalisation. While in the past political power-structures could be described as vertical, the globalisation creates new power structures which are much more horizontal and web-like.

We also find these structures within and around modern conflicts. Around means that New Wars are supported by different sources; diaspora, global enterprises, NGOs, international crime e.g..

Within means that in New Wars there are often all sorts different “players” at the same time; criminals, rebels, regular troops, vigilante groups e.g.. Of course the boundaries between those groups often overlap.

Those horizontal structures makes it harder to address and identify the authorities that could put an end to the conflict. It would be the classical approach of real-politik, which is still the mainstream approach on conflict resolution and which explains the failures in peacebuilding that have been made.

I think that mass-media and radio in particular can play a decisive role to address all those groups in conflicts. Radio is horizontal by definition.

Another aspect in Mary Kaldor’s theory is that New Wars are based around “identity politics”. Identity is a form of labelling on an ethnic group, race or religion. That’s why New Wars are often called ethnic-conflicts and are mostly genocidal. “Identity politics” is a result of globalisation. It is backward-looking, based on national myths and nostalgia of “better times”. It is exclusive to other groups.

Kaldor says that politics of identity can be contrasted by politics of ideas. “The politics of ideas is about forward-looking projects” and it is inclusive to all people embracing the idea. Kaldor gives the examples of environmentalism or socialism. However, she also warns that those ideas can lead to totalitarian or authoritarian practices. Therefore, I would like to oppose those ideas – that could lead to ideologies – with Hannah Arendt’s concept of political practice. The advantage is, that Arendt’s theory is a non-normative theory. To set a contrast versus “identity politics”, this would mean in a post-conflict area to promote the idea of democratic practice and peace.

Radio can be a way for promotion.

Newer approaches on conflicts within the international community are going in the right direction, like the Responsibility to Protect concept or the UN Peacebuilding Commission.

The state of modern peacebuilding approaches will be my next chapter and I think that there are practices where my radio concept could be integrated very easily.

I hope, I could make it clear why I have chosen Mary Kaldor’s New War theory, why it has a great explanatory power to the current world situation and why it is fitting for my concept of radio.

You’re always welcome to criticise, comment or ask questions on my blog.


Last Updated (Thursday, 18 March 2010 18:18)


1st Blogentry

"Am Anfang war das Wort und nicht das Geschwätz, und am Ende wird nicht die Propaganda sein, sondern wieder das Wort." Gottfried Benn

"In the beginning was the Word and not gossip, and in the end there will not be propaganda but once again the Word." Gottfried Benn

The first step is always the hardest step. I think it is very useful for my dissertation to analyse the change in the concept of peacebuilding over the last decades. The discourse is still dominated by two different approaches. The top-down approach and the bottom up approach towards peace!

In few words:

- The top-down approach is the one of classical international politics, the realm of diplomacy. The believe behind the top-down approach is that peace agreements on the leadership level of a conflict will finally leak to the bottom of conflict societies. Peace agreements are a trade-off on interests and issues.

- The bottom-up approach is the newer approach of aid-workers and "philanthropist". By changing the awareness of societies towards violence and by showing ways to resolve disagreements peacefully, it is thought to have a sustainable and long-term impact towards a sustainable peace.

John Paul Lederach calls them the older brother of International Relations and the younger sister of Conflict Resolution, who are often in controversy to each other.

This "dichotomy" one can find in many shapes and forms in peace and conflict studies literature. In Johan Galtung's differentiation between peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding e.g..

Otherwise reality has proven that recipes that where successful in the cold war era and that relied strongly on the top-down approach, failed after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. This led to a rethinking of peacebuilding strategies.

However, it is not a real dichotomy. Both approaches are not mutually exclusive. In theory as well as in practice there is a raising awareness that both approaches are needed for a sustainable peace. Lederach calls it reconciliation, the United Nations developed the concept of an integrated peacebuilding strategy.

In the context of a radio station, which shall be a significant part of a peacebuilding strategy, I think both approaches are definitely needed. For example, a radio station needs legal certainty for journalist as well as training for journalists in professional standards.

Therefore my first lines of my dissertation will be on theory and practice of peacebuilding over the last decades.

Because this is my first blog entry, please feel free to comment on my ideas. Also feel free to criticise me, if you think that I am going in a wrong direction. A dissertation should not be about personal ego but about gaining scientific knowledge.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 05 January 2010 12:47)