AESI PROMOTING UNIVERSITY COOPERATION FOR PEACE

AESI PROMOTING UNIVERSITY COOPERATION FOR PEACE

AND DIALOGUE IN CRISES AREAS
 
BALKANS: SARAJEVO and BELGRADE
MIDDLE EAST : BEIRUT and JERUSALEM
MEDITERRANEAN : CYPRUS
 
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THE NEW UNIVERSITY COOPERATION STRATEGY FOR PEACE 

One of the basic challenges of the 21st Century is assuring international peace and fostering development, in the light of the new World balance. Today, there are problems that can only be solved by action at the global level. New strategic thinking is required to approach global issues and advance “global public goods”. Consequently, international communities must become protagonists of a new strategy to intervene in crisis areas and to promote peace, human rights and development with a strategy based on realistic and effective foreign common policy. Such a strategy must include the collaborative efforts of diplomatic, economic and peace forces actions, while being rooted in the common goal of development of a strong cooperation culture of solidarity capable of understanding local needs and providing quick and efficient solutions that are at once professional and respectful of human dignity. Such a strategy must rely on cultural expertise and include expert knowledge of the theoretical elements of crisis and development management and the capability to understand the real comprehensive needs of the populations, and their historical and cultural roots in order to give effective answers to them, and to promote peace and development even in the first phases of the interventions.
 
The New Challenges of the University Cooperation for Peace
A competent and comprehensive response requires a multidisciplinary approach. In every university cooperation programme for peace it is necessary to take into account that the objective of an action aiming to analyse the situations must take into consideration the cultural context, in order to advance the technical and cultural objectives of the cooperation. Universities can play a significant role in this new strategy for humanitarian affairs, if they build partnerships with other relevant actors, including international organizations, diplomacy, peace forces and NGOs. Universities should not act as elite, far removed from real problems and challenges. On the contrary, universities and their faculty should be engaged in the field and share their expertise and knowledge as well as learn from other actors.
 
The traditional “academic collaboration” is distinct from the “university cooperation for peace and development” understood as a strategy of action aimed to build a more developed and peaceful society.
In fact, university cooperation needs to manage and deal with a double problem of independence in order to face the challenges to which it is called: from one side, it has to tackle the problem of research, didactics and operational services naturally built into the academic structure; from the other, it has to deal with the necessity of reconciling technical- scientific interventions, that must be tailored to the real demands of the local populations whose needs become are gradually discovered as the project proceeds. When we speak about university cooperation we don’t refer only to the exchange of lecturers and researchers - which is usually the objective of traditional forms of academic collaboration - although this kind of activity may be very useful. University cooperation implies a more general strategy based on both analysis and action, of training and research in the field, of cooperation among the academy and civil institutions, diplomats and international organizations, volunteers and peace forces, in order to provide support in both the prevention and solution of crisis promoting future development.