Recommendations from the 2015 NYC Conference “Searching for a Global Peace and Security Architecture for the 21st Century”

A Report prepared by the Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Interactive Conflict Transformation based on the results of the workshop “A Global Architecture for Peace and Security” held in NYC on 28-29 September, 2015 and organized by the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, in cooperation with the Kelman Institute and the International Crisis Group. By Alice Ackermann, with Augustin Nicolescou & Wilfried Graf.


On 29-30 September 2015, a two-day workshop took place in New York on “Searching for a Global Peace and Security Architecture for the 21st Century: Challenges and Perspectives.” Participants representing academe, diplomacy, and non-governmental organizations debated critical issues related to structures, processes and policies of a future global peace and security architecture.

Several transitions in history and political efforts toward the re-establishment of a stable ‘governing order’ were explored, in particularly the Congress of Vienna which gave rise to the Concert of Europe system in 1815, and which lasted nearly a hundred years.

There were differences of opinion as to how such a 21st century world order should be constructed: whether it is to be a new Concert of Powers with an initial membership of four, or alternatively 6 great power states; a G-20 with an expanded agenda; or a new institutional arrangement, similar to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), the predecessor of today’s OSCE.

It was agreed that regardless of what institutional arrangement be adopted, that it would act complementarity to existing institutions, such as the UN Security Council.

Making use of various tracks of engagement between state and non-state actors for purposes of dialogue facilitation was deemed essential in building a secure and peaceful world order. Ensuring prosperity and the welfare of citizens, managing climate change and the global economy, which is increasingly under duress, as well as burden-sharing in the delivery of common and public goods were also the subject of debate in envisioning a new global peace and security architecture.

As to norms and values guiding a 21st century architecture, it was agreed that unlike Europe of 1815, there is no universal value system at present. However, there are precedents as to states accepting common norms and values in institutional settings, such as within the United Nations.

Discussions also focused on identity-driven processes such as the perseverance of national and ethnic identities and issues of self-determination, and interpretations thereof, that are likely to remain a challenge to any future peace and security architecture. The European experience of a supranational identity may offer some insights.

The importance of thinking about conditions that are conducive to peace as well as enhancing the capacity of individuals to understand peace processes in a non-linear way are also crucial dynamics in our efforts toward creating sustainable peace.

Food-for-Thought for the 2015 Vienna Congress

In the lead-up to Vienna, the New York workshop identified commonalities of ideas and visions as well as divergent opinions. In particular the new framework for a 21st century architecture and its corresponding elements require further debate, likely to be a guiding theme at the Congress of Vienna 2015. Discussions at the Workshop demonstrated that among various models available, a preferred one for consideration could be a ‘Concert’ of small group of major powers, convening regularly to discuss the most pertinent international problems and corresponding burden-sharing arrangements with respect to the management of spheres of influence (essential to avoid great power conflict and regional conflicts), and the delivery of global public goods. Such a Concert would also act in ways that is complementarity to existing international institutions with similar mandates so as to avoid competition or conflicting responsibilities. On the eve of the Congress of Vienna 2015, it is also recommended to draft a ‘mission statement’ on the event that provides guidance to the delegates, experts, and other observers, as to the tasks in front of them and those ahead for the future.

For further details and recommendations for possible question for consideration at the 2015 Vienna Congress, the full NYC Workshop Report.