In a changing multipolar world order, an unprecedented range of actors are carrying out a growing number of international interventions. These interventions attempt to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, among them resolving conflict, building states, and strengthening democracy. Yet in some cases, external actors – intentionally or unintentionally – weaken entire societies through their interventions and fuel, for example, civil war, states’ rivalry, terrorism, or human rights violations.
On 1-2 December 2016, leading international scholars and practitioners joined GIGA researchers in Hamburg, Germany, in addressing these issues. At the External Intervention in the Age of Global Transitions Conference, they discussed how interventions are conceptualised and assessed in different disciplines, and also diverse experiences in implementing interventions across the globe.
In her opening statement, GIGA President Prof. Amrita Narlikar emphasised the usefulness of applying the GIGA’s global approach to this complex subject. She argued, “The diversity and divergence of intervention derives at least partly from the entry and growing voices of new actors. As power diffuses from the liberal western core, many of these new actors will matter even more.” That is why a pluralistic perspective which takes into account the historical experiences and differing visions from the world regions can bring a unique and necessary value-added, she said.
In the course of two days of stimulating debate, the participants shared comprehensive insights on how interventions help to build states, and to foster peace and security. Participants suggested that global power shifts could lead to major tensions in the context of external interventions, identifying as influencing factors the rise of new powers, power diffusion, and liberal ideas of order increasingly being challenged. Above all, the question of what constitutes legitimate grounds for intervention was intensely discussed.
The GIGA launched the Global Transitions Conference Series in 2015 to promote analysis and debate on key problems the world faces today from diverse academic and practitioners’ perspectives, and to propose innovative and feasible solutions. Once a year, leading thinkers from around the globe are invited to join GIGA scholars for this dynamic interaction at the GIGA in Hamburg, Germany.