Home>YLS 2021 - Peace as a Sysiphian endeavor


YLS 2021 - Peace as a Sysiphian endeavor

Replay the panel discussion and read the summary below

A keynote speech by Ghassan Salamé, former UN Special Envoy to Libya; founding Dean, PSIA, Sciences Po; former Minister of Culture, Lebanon

Chaired by: Roger Cohen, The New York Times. | Student Greeter: Esther Bensadon, PSIA student, Master in Advanced Global Studies.

Ghassan Salamé talked about his experience as a former UN special envoy to Libya, and how the current international community fails to address conflicts.

Weaknesses of the international community

“The first characteristic of the international community is that it doesn't exist” said Ghassan Salamé. According to him, the international community as such is rarely a key factor of peacemaking, as “to talk about the community, you need a certain level of interaction but also of solidarity. And right now, we don't have this collective solidarity we need.” In particular, he refers to the growing deregulations of the world order since the 1980s. He regrets that powerful countries tend to interfere more and more, given the fact that international norms have been deeply challenged and international organizations such as the UN Security Council may reflect national interest before seeking peace-keeping approaches. 

Achieving peace 

Salamé argued that “peacemaking is Sisyphean because the minute you think you have progressed a lot, you are reminded of the eternal punishment […] to keep pushing up that stone, up the hill to see it always go down and to try it again.” He explained how he achieved to reunite countries involved in the Libyan conflict last year and succeeded to make them sign a text on arm embargo, only to see it being broken by the states after the signature.

To achieve peace, he says, “it is not true that war is an action & peace is a state of mind… Peace is also an action. It’s something you need to plan & pursue. It needs a lot of permanent vigilance.”

(c) An article written by Aude Dejaifve, PSIA student in the Joint Master in Journalism and International Affairs, 2021

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