Peter Wallensteen in 2016. Photo: Barbara Johnston / University of Notre Dame
Peter Wallensteen, interviewed by Siri Aas Rustad
PRIO was the engine of our Nordic peace research network. To “go to PRIO” meant to be updated on the state of the art, to find out what was going on. The ideas generated could then be taken back home and used to build up one’s own activities.
Siri Aas Rustad: ‘You have been immensely important for the development of peace research. You have made your mark in Sweden, but also internationally as a pioneer in gender, peace and security studies and through the creation of the leading data collection project, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. If you think back on your childhood, was there anything in particular that influenced you in the direction of international relations and peace research?
Peter Wallensteen: I was born in 1945. My family had always been interested in international questions, and we travelled a fair bit. For example, when I was 10, we went by boat and car to England. The large political event that made me interested in international politics was the Suez Crisis with invasion of Egypt by Israel, France and the United Kingdom in 1956, at the same time as the Soviet Union invaded Hungary.
Is there really an inherent conflict between pursuing national interests and acting in globally responsible ways on migration?
We call for a debate that moves beyond an artificial dichotomy between the “headless heart” and the “heartless head”. A good start would be to acknowledge the salience and value of binding international agreements, regarding refugees and other migrants.
Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Since 2015, debates about migration in Europe have increasingly been dominated by voices urging to avoid that our hearts rule our heads on migration policy. Often, these calls have explicitly referenced the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Europe’s borders, where people continue to drown at sea. In the Scandinavian context, a concern for the future of welfare states is often connected to an alleged need for stricter policy on immigration. However, the dichotomy between a “headless heart” and a “heartless head” , as advocated by Paul Collier, among others, contributes neither to informed debate, nor to realistic policy. On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, we argue for the need to go beyond such simple dichotomies and instead consider both national interests and states international responsibilities in migration policy.Read More
The role of business in society is as contested as ever.
Coal Mine in Central India. Photo: Jason Miklian / PRIO
Business can help grow local communities, or they can exploit them. Economic growth can bring states together as it did the European Union, or it can help trigger conflict if the benefits are not distributed equitably, as we have seen in Myanmar, Sudan, and Sri Lanka, among others. Working in challenging environments across the developing world, firms can use either peace or conflict as a window to profit.
On the plus side, this can mean companies changing their operational strategies to better support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or more engaged Corporate Social Responsibility action. On the negative side, firms can also use the same platforms to ‘peacewash’ their activities, arguing that their mere economic presence in conflict zones improves local communities when the reality leads to the opposite.
Marek Thee as head of Polish Consulate General in Tel Aviv in 1950–1952. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Poland Archives
Marek Thee (1918–1999), a portrait written by Marta Bivand Erdal
The opposite pole of globalisation is fragmentation – the exclusion of a majority of the world’s population from the benefits of human development, generating a frustrated drive to defensive postures in violent and suicidal ideologies of nationalism, ethnicity and political-religious fundamentalism. Fault-lines are erected across the globe both vertically and horizontally by economic and military power relations on the one hand, and by gross inequalities between the rich and the poor on the other hand. (Marek Thee, personal, unpublished memoirs)
In his personal and unpublished memoirs My Story: A Journey Through the 20th Century, Marek Thee, in the late 1990s, soon before his death in 1999, reflects on the state of the world. He does so as a child of twentieth century Europe, but also to a significant extent as a child of the twentieth century world. His twentieth century perspective, as a historian by discipline, and a truth-seeking activist at heart, are strikingly accurate comments on the present, some twenty years after they were written.
Helge Hveem, ca.1981. Photo: PRIO Photo Archive
Helge Hveem, interviewed by Per Olav Reinton
There is no country that illustrates large-scale violence better than the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is why the Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege is so well deserved, and why it also affirms the validity of structural violence as a concept. Even if the causes may vary – and physical violence may also breed structural violence – I believe that the DRC demonstrates that physical violence follows from structural violence. Or rather: the two types are interrelated; structural violence makes physical violence easier.
Helge Hveem: My experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo put me on a path towards the type of theory-driven, but also policy-oriented, empirical research that I followed at PRIO and the University of Oslo, and still pursue. It was a significant day for me when the Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.Read More