By Christine June, George C. Marshall European Center for Security StudiesMay 1, 2019
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies is hosting the Seminar on Regional Security (SRS) 19-08 now until May 17.
THE WAY AHEAD FOR ONGOING CONFLICTS
This four-week course focuses on European regional security challenges that are driving European political agendas and public discussion.
"The influence of regional conflicts steadily increased during the last decade," said Dr. Andrew A. Michta, dean of the Marshall Center's College of International and Security Studies, during his opening remarks on the first day of class. "In times of globalization, local conflicts increasingly do impact and destabilize not only individual countries but entire regions."
He added, "The goal of this course is ambitious, because we want you to negotiate a solution to a conflict, which many observers think to be hopeless. We want to see with what creative solutions you come up with."
Held once a year at the Marshall Center, SRS is taught in English and Russian.
"The core objective for SRS will be to analyze ongoing conflicts, come up with basic conclusions on root causes, and identify actors, crisis management efforts and a way ahead for ongoing crises," said German air force Col. Jörg Kunze, Marshall Center's SRS executive course director.
This will be the fifth iteration of this seminar for Kunze. In total, there have been seven SRS resident programs at the Marshall Center. The seminar began in 2013.
INCREASE OF CONFLICTS
"In the New Year's address of the United Nations, the Secretary General rang the red-alert bell when he said that the level of trust worldwide is decreasing and the number of conflicts is increasing," he said. "This gave my team and me the task of dealing with a lot more conflicts than we were are used to tackling in this seminar."
He added, "For this iteration, we have spread out our conflict studies to not only the eastern flank of Europe, but also to the Mediterranean and as far south as Sub-Saharan Africa."
Central to this course is the examination of multiple regional conflicts, past and ongoing, which will allow participants to enhance their ability to analyze and propose resolutions.
There are 38 participants from 23 countries attending SRS 19-08. Out of this number, there are 17 military and 22 civilians, and 14 females and 25 males.
Participants will analyze current security crises, understand impact on regional security, identify patterns of conflict management, consider the gender dimensions of conflict and conflict management, and practice negotiation techniques.
"Participants are not only from ministries of defense and general staff, but they are also from ministries of interior and foreign affairs, and police forces and even non-governmental organizations," Kunze said. "We were aiming for the mid-level to higher-level representatives and government or NGO employees from our respective client countries."
Kunze, said he and his team fit gender equality into the SRS program.
"Talking about gender equality is often perceived as women and women's rights, but gender and security covers a lot more issues," he said. "For example, how do you feel personally and in a social context about being a man or a woman or a child, being a veteran or a person with a disability or even, of different sexual orientation? That's what's covered under gender issues.
"We are trying to achieve a gender balance participation." He explained, "Why should we exclude about 50 percent of the world's population, by not inviting female participants to the course and to have say in conflict management?"
THE HOUSE OF SRS
The Seminar on Regional Security is broken down into three modules, each building upon the lessons learned in the previous module, said Kunze.
During the first module, Marshall Center faculty and guest speakers provide a foundation of common understanding required for the rest of the course.
Lectures and discussion topics provide a framework of definitions and concepts of security, regional security, conflict, and crisis management, as well as associated regional implications.
In addition, the seminar working groups will be tasked to do some research on selected regional and international conflict management organizations and mechanisms, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, African Union, the United Nations, as well as contributions from civil society and to present their research results to the SRS audience.
In the second module, participants develop insights into past and ongoing regional conflicts, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Syria and Mali. The seminar working groups with the help of subject matter experts will be tasked to do some research on the selected case studies, referring to national, regional and international actors, their aims and objectives and the current status of conflict management efforts.
These insights are then transferred into lessons learned for management of future crises.
In the third module, participants improve their negotiation skills and practice them in a simulated Track 1 Peace Conference, built on a regional crisis scenario.
During this particular module, SRS participants will apply everything they learned during the course.
Kunze said that this particular module is mediated by an experienced ambassador or representative of an international or regional organization with considerable real-life experience in conflict management processes.
NEW TO SRS
For the first time, SRS will be complemented by a three-day field study trip to Vienna, providing participants with the opportunity to receive some firsthand information from Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe practitioners in the field and representatives of international organizations like the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"This field trip will help us to validate the concepts that we are discussing among each other in SRS with practitioners of the real world," Kunze said. "This will put our participants in contact with real-life practitioners and to find out about what's going on, and to see if their ideas would survive contact with reality."