Annual Report 2015

Where knowledge meets experience







Making an impact

Educating international

peace and security leaders


• 40 courses in total

• 14 new courses

• 829 participants

• 125 countries of origin

• 400+ expert speakers

The main way in which the GCSP creates a community of influential policymakers and leaders is through executive education. In 2015 we presented 40 courses (including 14 new ones) to a total of 829 participants (21 per cent more than the previous year), in which we covered a wide range of pressing issues. We did this by developing both the skills and knowledge of participants from 125 countries who worked in governments, civil society organizations, militaries, and private companies. The courses were taught by more than 400 in-house and external experts and practitioners.


Developing leadership in global security

Leadership is a key skill for modern security policy professionals and a core focus at the GCSP. Educating leaders for the security challenges of tomorrow requires an understanding of the nature of global conflict, the prospects for greater cooperation, and the balance between the two. It also requires leaders to develop new skills that empower them to influence political outcomes, know how to advocate for peace, and find creative solutions to complex security problems.


To address the challenges of educating a new generation of global leaders, the GCSP held the first edition of the Leadership in International Security Course (LISC) in 2015. The LISC builds on the 29-year history and global reputation of the International Training Course (ITC) in Security Policy. This regeneration of course content and curriculum reflects the GCSP’s response to the evolution of changes in the field of executive education, adapted to real-world circumstances. During the course, participants are given the opportunity to enhance their individual leadership skills and knowledge of organizational leadership in order to achieve a commonly accepted understanding of societal leadership skills that can enhance peace and security.


The LISC continues to deliver excellence in teaching and learning, with renewed opportunities for participants to engage with academic experts and practitioners, and to network among a range of government agencies, the private sector, and international institutions throughout Europe. The course also reflects the GCSP’s increasingly global connections, with participants from 24 countries across the globe, including for the first time from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, and Tajikistan. The LISC continues to form part of the Master of Advanced Studies in International and European Security, which is jointly run with and accredited by the University of Geneva’s Global Studies Institute.


The 19th European Training Course in Security Policy (ETC): “Examining Global Security Challenges Relative to Europe”, focuses on European security in a regional and global context in order better to assess the inter-connectedness of transnational threats and responses. The course deepened participants’ understanding of the security policy challenges faced by Europe and explored innovative policy solutions to global challenges.


Over the course of eight weeks, 21 participants from 20 countries around the world worked closely with one another, sharing experiences from their diverse backgrounds in various government ministries and NGOs. Participants from Indonesia, Kuwait, the Philippines, and Senegal attended for the first time, further broadening the GCSP’s international reach. Notably, this was the first time in which women ETC participants outnumbered the men—a laudable achievement in terms of the equitable participation of professionals in the field of security policy. Esteemed GCSP alumna Ambassador Maria Ciobanu (ITC 1997-98) of the Permanent Mission of Romania in Geneva gave the farewell address, in which she spoke of the challenges facing Europe and the lifelong value of the GCSP family.


To foster greater collaboration on global leadership challenges, the GCSP has signed a formal partner-ship agreement with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), based in the United States. The GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance was launched in November 2015 as a first-of-its-kind collaboration to advance the effectiveness of leadership training in public, private, and civil society organizations, especially those dedicated to advancing peace and security.


A key component of the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance is the desire to match individual and group leadership training with a comprehensive understanding of contemporary security challenges such as peacebuilding, crisis management, and national resilience.


Although the body of knowledge about peacebuilding is growing, it is not clear what makes modern peacebuilding effective. Similarly, considerable knowledge exists on leadership training, but often fails to permeate into the peacebuilding field. To address this particular challenge, the GCSP emphasizes education outcomes that build leadership in peacebuilding. Through the Senior-level Peacebuilding Course we provide an opportunity for senior leaders operating in volatile environments to enhance their understanding of sustainable peacebuilding and leadership styles. The 22 participants of the 2015 course included a mixture of national and international actors, inter-governmental and non-governmental participants, and women and men. The course is conducted in partnership with the Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research on behalf of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.


These courses are supplemented by the GCSP’s longstanding commitment to the Swiss Expert Pool for Civilian Peacebuilding. The annual Peacebuilding Training Course in Stans (Switzerland) continues to deliver a comprehensive set of knowledge and skills for practitioners before they are posted to peacekeeping missions around the world. Participants are drawn from a variety of backgrounds; from the civil, police, and military sectors; and from countries across Europe, Africa, and Asia.


“Preparing leaders also means training them to make better decisions.”


In 2015 the GCSP conducted the first of our Crisis Decision-Making courses, as a practical guide for mid- to senior-level professionals to fine-tune the art of decision-making. Leadership skills are the key to deepening participants’ knowledge of crisis decision-making processes. In this context we offer the opportunity to explore at a personal, cultural, and organizational level the skills needed to perform effectively in tense or difficult situations. Participants become more resilient by exploring the skills and behaviours needed to overcome challenges and setbacks.


Through its various peacebuilding and leadership courses the GCSP trained more than 200 professionals from around the world in 2015 alone.



The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a top- ranked, global provider of executive education that accelerates strategy and results by unlocking the leadership potential of individuals and organizations. Founded in 1970, CCL offers an array of research-based programs, products and services for leaders at all levels. Ranked among the world’s Top 10 providers of executive education by Businessweek and the Financial Times, CCL is headquartered in Greensboro, USA, with offices around the world.

Building capacities worldwide


The GCSP has provided bespoke educational opportunities to political advisors since 2012.

“Building capacities involves not only developing individual knowledge and skills, but also enabling leaders to share what they have learned with their colleagues and societies.”


The GCSP recognizes the importance of building the capacities of policymakers around the world. This involves not only developing individual knowledge and skills, but also enabling our course participants to share what they have learned with their colleagues and societies. We do this in a number of ways, including focusing on targeted professions and societies, and holding open-enrolment courses where participants can share knowledge across silos.


The course on International Relations and Human Security for participants from Myanmar, launched after Swiss Federal Counsellor and head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter’s visit to Myanmar in 2011, for example, contributes to the democratization of that country. Having completed the third edition in 2015, the course content covers a wide spectrum of international relations issues, including democratization and human security. The course equips participants with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to successfully build the future of their country. It allows them to meet and engage with academics and practitioners from different spheres, and establish contacts with their fellow citizens from various state ministries, the military, parliament, and civil society.


Previously they were rarely able to do this, but after completing the course they are able to maintain their connections and collaborate after returning to Myanmar.


In 2015 we offered the first course on Understanding and Navigating Political Transitions for representatives of civil society, international organizations, and the private sector working with and in countries in transition. The course not only provided participants with an understanding of the processes and modes of political transition, but also equipped them with tools to cope with the many and varied challenges linked to transition.


Political advisors are instrumental actors in the decision-making processes of peace and security efforts, and their effectiveness is of fundamental importance to those efforts. Their duties require them to synthesize information rapidly, develop a comprehensive understanding of the context and key issues, and communicate their analysis to their institutions at varying levels while building and nurturing meaningful relationships. This course builds the skill sets and networks that political advisors need to carry out their work.


By supporting worldwide capacity-building activities, the GCSP has provided bespoke educational opportunities to political advisors since 2012. The participants in the July 2015 edition of the course reached new levels of national and institutional diversity. Sessions focused on the skills required for providing effective political advice, including conflict and political analysis, political reporting, briefing, mediation, communication, and working with the media. Theory was put into practice through multiple case studies, with subjects ranging from the status of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to the power of al-Shabaab, and from the application of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Ukraine to Syrian governance.


The knowledge shared by the experts who presented the course was complemented by the exchange of experiences among the participants themselves. This interactive course created space for these shared lessons, either through plenary discussions, small group work, or informal networking time outside the classroom.


The role of military officers, diplomats, and senior officials involved in defence and diplomacy is important and manifold. Once deployed, they are legal military surveyors who must be capable of assessing security changes and risks. Many countries do not have the expertise required to train them, especially with regard to the international dimension of their work.


In 2015 the GCSP organized courses for defence attachés in South-Eastern Europe, West Africa, East Africa, and the Middle East. One course took place in Geneva, which was also open to participants of the European Training Course in Security Policy and the Leadership in International Security Course, while a new course for South/South-East Asia is also in preparation. These courses are part of wider strategic cooperation between the GCSP and the Swiss Department of Defence, International Relations Defence.


The course on Building Capacities for Effective Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) serves to equip international security leaders with the knowledge and insights needed to address emerging challenges surrounding this treaty. In this particular course experts provide participants with the specific knowledge and tools needed to implement the requirements of the ATT (which seeks to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons, and prevent the diversion of arms and ammunition). For countries that have acceded to the treaty, but have limited implementation capacity.


“The Building Capacities for Effective Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty course offers a niche opportunity to build the necessary expertise and limit vulnerability to the pitfalls of the implementation process.”


Throughout the various capacity-building courses, training methodologies are customized to the specific needs of participants, who are exposed to experienced practitioners and scholars. Discussions are encouraged and represent an important opportunity for participants to improve their knowledge and develop their analytical skills.



Effective policymaking at the national and international levels places a premium on recognizing and understanding emerging transnational challenges.

Addressing emerging transnational challenges

Effective policymaking at the national and international levels places a premium on recognizing and understanding emerging transnational challenges. For international security leaders, this requires the ability to identify transnational challenges at an early stage, comprehend their possible effects on other issue areas, and gauge their possible consequences.

At the GCSP a range of executive education courses are tailored to build participants’ awareness of emerging transnational issues and provide them with the tools necessary to address them.


An essential prerequisite for dealing with emerging transnational challenges is early warning. To develop this capacity, in 2015 the GCSP developed a course on Foresight and Strategic Planning. The curriculum is specifically designed to provide participants with an overview of both quantitative and qualitative foresight methods. To strengthen their understanding of these methods, group exercises allows participants to design a foresight process and determine the circumstances under which specific gathering, interpretive, and prospective methodologies may be applied. Besides enabling participants to become more familiar with foresight methodologies, exercises such as these also help them to gauge which methodology should be applied to specific circumstances and needs. In 2015 the course attracted participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including staff from Greenpeace, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and private sector trading companies; strategic planners serving in ministries of foreign affairs; and law enforcement personnel.


Preparing leaders also requires strengthening their capacity for strategic reflection in order to develop novel solutions to a specific problem.


To facilitate this, the GCSP offers several courses on how to devise national strategies to deal with emerging issues such as securing cyberspace and preventing violent extremism. These courses emphasize the principal components of the strategy formation process: identifying strategic goals (the “ends”), aligning the necessary tools to achieve these goals (the “means”), and gauging how to apply or mix the available tools (the “ways”).


The course on Devising a National Cyber Security Strategy exposes participants to existing national cyber strategies and their specific priority areas. Based on this foundation, participants learn that copying or relying heavily on elements from other strategies is unlikely to work well in a specific national context. Instead, national cyber security objectives need to correspond with each country’s specific characteristics and the extent to which it relies on information and communications technologies. Leaders also need to assess how they want to balance possibly mutually exclusive objectives such as encouraging economic growth while ensuring security. Through group work, participants engage in individual case studies to create the basis for a fully-fledged national strategy. Facilitators who are experts in the area and who in some cases have contributed to their own countries’ national strategies support the learning process.


A similar process underpins a new course offered in 2015 on Building a National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism. Policymakers increasingly recognize the complexity of attempts to counter and prevent violent extremism, especially given the variety of factors that explain the radicalization process.


To support policymakers and officials engaged in this area, the course maps out a strategy formulation methodology grounded on a “whole-of-government” approach. Such a holistic approach shows participants that no single department or ministry can address the issue alone and that national cooperation is as important as adequate levels of international cooperation.


Emerging transnational challenges are frequently linked to new or developing technologies or processes. To prepare leaders in this area the GCSP offers several courses that examine technology-centred issues such as those on Disruptive Technologies and Warfare and Artificial Intelligence. The underlying premise of these courses is that new technologies can offer a great deal of promise and many prospects for economic growth, innovation, and healthier societies, but can also have less-known security implications.


Another important dimension explored in these courses is the possible links across emerging technologies and how these may lead to unintended consequences. For example, how do advances in miniaturization (nanotechnology), artificial intelligence, manufacturing (3D/4D printing), biotechnology, and analytic power (“big data”) lead to new applications that may be misused? While policy- and decision-makers may not always be able to understand the technical dimensions of these new developments, they need to be aware of their possible policy ramifications.


The GCSP also offers several courses that specifically highlight the links across emerging transnational challenges. In 2015 a new course entitled Climate Change: Security Challenges and Solutions examined climate change as a risk multiplier. While its effects may only be felt in the long run, the failure to address the implications of climate change today will in the longer term impact other critical issue areas such as migration, and food and energy security. The course represents a cutting-edge opportunity for participants to identify patterns across emerging transnational challenges. Lastly, the flagship course of the Emerging Security Challenges Programme is the New Issues in Security Course. During this two-month course participants are exposed to a number of issues such as urban security, new flashpoints in geopolitics, and challenges facing ongoing political transitions. Participants from across the globe become aware of the relationships among emerging issues and, more importantly, are exposed to where the international community is currently situated with regard to answers, thus opening the door to future possible solutions.


Making an impact

Fostering dialogue and debate

In addition to organizing courses, the GCSP leverages its location in Geneva to serve as a platform for dialogue and debate. To reach out to policymakers and leaders, we hold panel discussions that are open to the public, as well as closed Track 1.5 and 2 meetings. In addition, in 2015 we began livestreaming our public events so that the discussions now extend to those who are unable to physically attend.

Our dialogue events are held in a number of formats: Public Discussions, Geneva Security Debates (launched in 2015), Executive Conversations, the Young Leaders Forum (the first edition of which was held in 2015), and closed, customized meetings of stakeholders that deal with a specific international security issue. In each of the series a wide array of topics are covered, including preventing conflicts and reinventing peacebuilding, promoting gender and diversity in peace and security, addressing challenges in cyberspace, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, and preventing terrorism and violent extremism, among others.

Preventing conflicts and reinventing peacebuilding

The GCSP has long been driving policy activities in the areas of conflict prevention and reinventing peacebuilding. To increase the effectiveness of prevention activities and the impact of peace-building, the Centre aims to break down silos by bringing together policymakers and expert practitioners from different regions of the world and various professional backgrounds. The GCSP engages in mainstreaming best practices of collaborative leadership in a field where this is traditionally under-represented. It practices what it preaches, having been at the inception and participating in the management of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform and Geneva Peace Week.


In 2015 the annual Geneva Peace Week brought together the peacebuilding best practices and knowledge of 50 organizations and over 2,700 participants, who took part in 41 events.


Dialogue activities are at the heart of the GCSP’s agenda to promote peace and security: these typically address complex issues, volatile regions, and/or the critical role of key actors in promoting peace. Contentious themes covered in our Public Discussions included the global refugee crisis (Refugee Crisis: National and Human Security Implications), societies’ potential for resilience (Geneva Launch of the Global Peace Index), the challenges and opportunities of natural resource management in conflict-affected settings (Mining Communities in Post-Conflict Settings and the Use of Barn Owls to Promote Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation), and threats to the global world order (International Affairs Today: Towards Order and Anarchy?).


The GCSP discussed some of the world’s most tense regions, covering, for example, security issues in the South China Sea (The South China Sea Dispute, in dialogue with a Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines); cooperative security mechanisms in Asia (Zermatt Roundtable on Current Issues in the North Pacific Region, in dialogue with the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies); and the crises in Ukraine (Geneva Security Debate: Did the West Provoke Russia?), in Syria (Geneva Security Debate: Is There a Solution in Syria with Assad?), and in South Sudan (South Sudan’s Crisis). The prevention and peacebuilding role of critical actors was also addressed, notably through the role of transnational groups, journalists (Contemporary Journalism: Winning the Battle for Freedom, with Tim Sebastian), and diplomats (The Role of the Diplomat and Diplomacy in a World of Global Transformation, with Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé).


The GCSP pursues its dialogue activities in order to increase informed analysis and decision-making among a community of practitioners, experts, and policymakers. While the GCSP is most known to the public for its Public Discussions and Geneva Security Debates, it also has extensive expertise in pursuing active policy cooperation through discreet Track 1.5 expert and policymaker processes, as well as by-invitation-only Track 2 expert meetings in the form of executive conversations, lunches, and policy seminars.


Promoting gender and diversity in peace and security

In 2015 the GCSP made significant strides in promoting gender on the international peace and security agenda.



Spearheaded by the new GCSP Gender and Security Cluster, half a dozen dialogue events at the Centre highlighted the importance of and interest in gender in the peace and security arena.



To mark the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000), the Global Study on the implementation of the resolution and its impact on the international Women, Peace and Security agenda was released in New York in October 2015. The Security Council then held a meeting to assess the impact of the resolution and agenda.


In November, in the context of the Geneva Peace Week, the GCSP and the Maison de la paix Gender and Diversity Hub hosted a Public Discussion to reflect on the problems undermining the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the extent to which these are reflected in the Global Study; to discuss options to advance women’s participation in peace and political processes; and to identify roles for “International Geneva” to foster the Women, Peace and Security agenda, both internationally and locally.


On another occasion Ms Elisabeth Rehn, a member of the High-Level Advisory Group for the Global Review of UNSCR 1325, joined us for an Executive Conversation in which she highlighted how empowering women and girls changes the dynamics of peace processes. She explained that only when leaders are genuinely interested in women in both peacetime and war can women’s participation in peace processes and women’s and girls’ security be better assured. Complementing Ms Rehn’s experience and analysis, one of the world’s leading scholars on peace negotiations, Prof. Paul R. Williams, presented strategies to better ensure durable peace agreements.


The GCSP also serves as a platform for the voice of civil society. In October the GCSP was honoured with visits by two civil society leaders and women’s rights activist in their home countries, Ms Yanar Mohammed of Iraq and Ms Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ms Mohammed is a co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, which provides safe havens for victims of domestic abuse and women threatened by honour killings, while Ms Lusenge has been battling injustices against women in her home country for over 20 years. Both Ms Mohammed and Ms Lusenge spoke at the GCSP after participating in the UN Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security in New York in October. The multiplier effect of these two activists is immeasurable, because the women they assist in turn become agents of change. Both guests highlighted the central role of women and organized groups of women in building and sustaining peace.


The inclusion of women in militaries across the world has been increasing in recent decades. However, progress has been sporadic and slow, and in some instances has stalled. In most militaries women are under-represented, particularly in leadership roles. To discuss this issue, Ms Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, joined us for a Public Discussion on Modern Militaries and Capability: The Importance of Women. The Australian Defence Force has significantly transformed its basic culture and has accelerated efforts to increase the representation of women in all its services and across all ranks. Through an exploration of the Australian case study this event explained why armed forces should care about the representation of women in their ranks, with the issue of capability at the heart of such reforms.


In partnership with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund and the US Mission in Geneva, the GCSP also held a Public Discussion on The Role of Women and Girls in Countering Violent Extremism. Focusing on the work of governments and civil society in addressing the threats facing Iraqi and Syrian women and girls from the Islamic State (IS), key messages included the need to recognize women and girls not only as victims and perpetrators of violent extremism, but also as an integral part of the solution by acting as agents of change in preventing radicalization and weakening support for violent extremist agendas.


In addition to gender, we also provided a platform for youth through the first Forum for Future Leaders on Freedom of Expression: A Right with Responsibilities? The forum explored the debate on freedom of expression as it is increasingly challenged by the so-called “war on terror” and the innovations of the digital era. Interns initiated the event, and the GCSP was pleased to offer an opportunity for young professionals to engage on an important topic in an executive setting.

Addressing challenges in cyberspace

Developments in cyberspace are rapidly changing the way in which most societies interact and function.
As our dependence on cyberspace grows, so do our vulnerabilities. Of particular concern are so-called “cascading effects”, where breakdowns in critical infrastructure or services can spill over and compromise other types of infrastructure. Exacerbating this challenge are advances in areas such as cloud computing, "big data”, and the "internet of things", which introduce new vulnerabilities (and opportunities) in cyberspace.


Addressing the challenges posed by cyberspace typically requires insights from the public, private, and civil society sectors.


To facilitate such dialogue, the GCSP engages in multiple cyber-related activities that involve representatives from these three sectors. For example, in July 2015 the GCSP organized an expert workshop on digital security. The event convened experts from the law enforcement, trade, and judicial sectors. Besides highlighting both common interests and diverging views on digital security, the workshop initiated a discussion on practical ways of speeding up the processing of international legal requests. This initiative is still in progress and aims to identify practical mechanisms that can be leveraged in real-world scenarios.


The GCSP also contributes to capacity-building processes. This can take two specific forms, the first of which is to build capacity among youth. To illustrate, the GCSP partnered with the Atlantic Council to bring the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge to Europe. Following the successful US model, the first European competition was held in Geneva on 22-23 April 2015, with nearly twenty teams from across Europe taking part. Student competitors were required to address an evolving fictional scenario by focusing on policy and consequence management solutions. To make the competition more realistic, cyber experts from the public, private, and civil society sectors gauged the responses identified by the competing teams. Net results stemming from this competition were new awareness, insights, networks, and interest among students across Europe vis-à-vis cyber issues.


A second GCSP approach to strengthening capacity building in the cyber arena is the introduction of expert workshops tailored to support ongoing processes in cyberspace. For example, in February 2015 the GCSP organized a seminar to examine mechanisms for confidence building and cooperation in cyberspace. The seminar was supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and served to complement the 4th Global Conference on Cyberspace hosted by the Netherlands in April 2015. The event provided an opportunity for various international organizations such as the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to highlight their respective efforts to contribute to confidence building in cyberspace.


Addressing challenges in cyberspace also requires careful consideration of ongoing developments and key issues such as the applicability of international law in cyberspace. To facilitate such reflection, the GCSP organizes periodic Public Discussions that examine future trends in cyberspace. To illustrate, in June 2015 a Public Discussion brought together cyber experts from a range of countries and organizations to highlight future developments in cyberspace, including evolving approaches to strengthen cyber security. Besides providing audiences with an opportunity to learn of forthcoming policy debates on the issue of cyberspace, the event also highlighted the frequent dilemmas that policymakers face when addressing mutually exclusive goals in cyberspace.

Countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons

Because of its potential destabilizing and devastating effects or humanitarian consequences, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons is a major concern to states, civil society, and academia.


Ideally situated in the heart of “International Geneva”—a well-known hub for arms control and disarmament negotiations and expertise—the GCSP seeks to develop a better understanding of trends in arms proliferation and offer novel solutions to this longstanding and complex issue.


The Centre’s added value and comparative advantage has been its ability to benefit from internal and external expertise, which allows it to take into account interrelationships with other emerging security challenges such as terrorism, organized crime, fragile or failed states, the economic dimensions of the defence industry, new technologies, health and environmental issues, etc. Indeed, explaining and responding to arms proliferation cannot be limited to merely examining the symptoms of the phenomenon, but require a broad analysis of its root causes, together with related challenges and threats.


In addition to specialized courses and modules on the ATT, the GCSP has initiated and supported sustained dialogue with the Geneva-based disarmament and non-proliferation community, in particular on potential new technological and legal developments in this field. Examples of activities include a Public Discussion on Monitoring Commitments in Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, a retreat with officials on the subject of Promoting Dialogue in Advance of the 2015 NPT Review Conference in March, a side event on Assistance in the Implementation of the ATT in July, a roundtable on Future Prospects for the Arms Trade Treaty: The Secretariat, Treaty Implementation and Beyond in November, and a workshop on Building a Civil Society Coalition to Strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in December, as well as contributions to several Track 2 meetings on the project of a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-free Zone.

Preventing terrorism and violent extremism

Terrorism has become an enduring—and growing—global threat. Terrorists are more strategic in their ability to conduct military, economic, social, and psychological operations. There is a growing global consensus that the threat of groups such as IS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram requires not only security-based counter-terrorism measures downstream, but also systematic steps to counter the appeal of violent extremism upstream in order to address the underlying conditions that drive individuals to radicalize and join violent groups. Recognizing this need, the GCSP has expanded its work in order to become increasingly proactive and strategic in its counter-terrorism focus.


The Centre’s new approach is designed to help international leaders and actors to build more creative, strategic, comprehensive, and effective counter-terrorism strategies.


The GCSP’s focus is on the “who, what, where, and how” of current terrorism prevention strategies. Concerning “the who”, the GCSP is reaching out to a wider spectrum of participants, including government leaders, international functionaries, civil society actors, and the private sector. A GCSP Public Discussion entitled The Many Dimensions of Counter-terrorism highlighted the current limitations of global counter-terrorism efforts and the importance of reflecting on “who” the appropriate counter-terrorism actors should be, given that terrorism is dependent on various political, economic, and foreign policy decisions that collectively feed and strengthen it. Another GCSP Public Discussion entitled Looking over the Horizon highlighted the importance of identifying “who” should be included in counter-terrorism and terrorism prevention efforts, moving beyond existing military, law enforcement, and intelligence efforts to think strategically about building greater national resilience by proactively strengthening community resilience against violent extremism.


As regards “the what”, the GCSP has broadened its focus on both the “push” and “pull” factors that feed violent extremism. The Centre hosted a Public Discussion on global trends in terrorism, including its geographic, economic, and political dimensions, by hosting the global launch of the Institute for Economics and Peace’s 2015 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) Report. The GCSP also held a Public Discussion entitled Le Moment Terroriste: Anciennes Menaces, Nouveaux Enjeux et Mutations that highlighted “what” the most recent manifestations of modern terrorism look like.


As regards “the where”, the GCSP hosted a Public Discussion on After Paris: The Challenge of Returning Fighters. The panellists discussed how since September 2015, IS has attracted approximately 25,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries, including 4,500 Westerners. The discussion highlighted “where” the fighters came from and “where” they were headed.


While national-level action is important, no country can face the problem of global terrorism alone. Taking this into account, the GCSP focused on finding innovative solutions on “how” to reduce global terrorism at the international level by hosting a high-level international policy dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: National Experiences and Best Practices in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the United States of America and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco. The GCSP has become increasingly proactive in its approach by not just providing a platform for dialogue and training, but by becoming an active participant in preventing violent extremism by empowering nations, regional actors, and international organizations worldwide.

The GCSP in the news

Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Mission to Ukraine and GCSP alumnus, Alexander Hug, talking to the press in Shyrokyne, 4 July 2015.

Throughout the year the GCSP’s in-house and associate experts helped to inform the conversation about the most current international security issues by giving interviews and background briefings to journalists from news outlets around the world, or by publishing provocative editorials and blog posts.


By doing so they diffused the GCSP’s expertise beyond the classroom and the usual academic and policy circles to reach a worldwide audience of hundreds of thousands of readers and viewers.


Below is a selection of these media appearances.


The Paris terror attacks and their aftermath

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks in November, GCSP experts addressed international news media on the new security challenges facing Europe. From analytical forecasts to first-person reporting, our experts provided up-to-date insight into the unfolding crisis:


• “It is precisely because the West must not put boots on the ground that reliance on locals’ boots is so critical”: Joseph Bahout in the Huffington Post


• “Global efforts to counter violent extremism ... remain underfunded and lacking in hard evidence to show that deradicalisation programs are possible or effective”: Dr Carl Ungerer in The Australian


• “[IS] is the richest terrorist organization in history, with an estimated wealth of $2 billion”: Dr Christina Schori Liang cited by Bloomberg


• “This is a 9/11 level event. I think it will change the game”: Admiral James Stavridis on BBC HARDtalk


• “What ISIS want more than anything is to provoke retaliation”: CBC interview with Janine Di Giovanni


• “Non, Daech n’est pas en état de faiblesse. Il risque d’aller encore plus loin ces prochains temps”: Mohammed-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou in Le Temps


• “French officials think as many as 20 plotters may be behind the Paris attacks”: Souad Mekhennet in The Washington Post


Other prominent outlets that featured analysis from our experts following the attacks included Le Monde, Vogue, euronews, CNN, PBS, and RTS.


Geopolitics and terrorism in the Middle East

Following the continued rise of the Islamic State, the GCSP’s experts provided analysis on how the group has grown and evolved, such as commentary by Prof. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on “The Islamic State’s First Year” in Al-Monitor and “Inside ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s Battle for Brand Supremacy” in Time. Dr Christina Schori Liang, on the other hand, has discussed “How to Counter the Islamic State on Twitter” with the Christian Science Monitor and IS funding with CNN Money.


Focusing on how terrorism and violent extremism have affected the wider Middle East region, Prof. Mohamedou looked at the politics and extremist groups in Yemen for Newsweek and France 24, and also partnered with Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan to examine the historical influence that the Arab-Islamic world has had on the West, which was featured in Al Huffington Post Maghreb. Finally, Dr Carl Ungerer asked, “Do You Have a Terrorism Plan?” in The Age.



Building on the GCSP’s expertise and engagement in disarmament and non-proliferation processes, experts such as Marc Finaud have been featured on various outlets, including Phoenix TV, RTS, and Xinhua, speaking about the Iranian nuclear programme and the related negotiations that have taken place in Geneva. On Swissinfo and RTS, Mr Finaud and Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan highlighted the arms trade and autonomous weapons as being important features of the shifting international security landscape.


Information and cyber security

Globally, cyber and information security are becoming increasingly pressing concerns for actors at all levels. Responding to this, Gustav Lindstrom discussed “cyberdiplomacy” with Le Temps, while François Heisbourg talked to Libération about government espionage. On the subjects of information security and “big data”, Nick Ashton-Hart discussed the expansive and growing digital economy in a blog post for the Council on Foreign Relations, and Pasi Eronen explored the issue of hackers corrupting data in a piece for Overt Action.



Making an impact

Contributing to evidence-based


At the GCSP we channel the analysis and knowledge of our in-house experts, fellows, and partners into applied policy analysis through our publications series. Publication contributors come from various sectors and backgrounds, bringing fresh ideas and new ways of looking at problems. They identify emerging issues and challenges and present innovative solutions.

The analysis generated feeds into GCSP courses and is also shared with scholars, practitioners, and policymakers around the world to inform and inspire forward-thinking approaches to fostering international peace, security, and cooperation.


In 2015 the GCSP increased the robustness of its publications, featuring an increase in frequency and regularity, including a revival of the Asian Conflicts Report (ACR), which was originally established by the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR). The GCSP is pleased to become the new institutional home for the ACR, and is committed to building on the strong network of security scholars and practitioners who form the foundation of the wider international security community created by the CATR. The GCSP’s Geneva Papers and Policy Papers also received a visual redesign and the latter was renamed the Strategic Security Analysis series, to better reflect its content and impact.

Geneva Papers

Geneva Papers seek to analyse international security issues through an approach that combines policy analysis and academic rigour. Papers in this series are substantial in length, the analysis is balanced, and they provide a variety of perspectives. Two of the Geneva Papers released in 2015 were:


“The Crisis of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the Global Context” by Col. (GS) Stefan C. P. Hinz

The ground-breaking Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on the permanent elimination of all intermediate-range missiles by the United States and Russia was signed in 1987. A recent difficulty in the relationship between the two countries emerged in the summer of 2014 when the United States officially accused Russia of violating the treaty. Despite this, Russia has not expressed an intention to formally withdraw from the treaty. This paper discusses how despite the merits of the INF Treaty, the current situation clearly points to the limits of its regime.


“The Dynamics of Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia” by Dr Hans J. Roth

Western political observers often emphasize the need to establish a proper security structure in the Asia-Pacific region. But the chances of such a structure being created appear to be much smaller than generally accepted because of the very different social structures and dynamism of Asian countries in comparison to their European counterparts.

Strategic Security Analysis

The Strategic Security Analysis (formerly called Policy Papers) series publishes short papers that address a current security issue. They provide background information about the theme, identify the main issues or challenges, and, when relevant, propose policy recommendations. With one Strategic Security Analysis paper being released a month, a selection of the topics and authors are as follows:


“How Are Societies Defended against Hybrid Threats?” by Aapo Cederberg and Pasi Eronen

The authors explore how hybrid warfare intentionally blurs the distinction between times of peace and war, making it difficult for targeted countries to devise adequate policy responses in a proper and timely way. Multipronged hybrid threats demand that defence planners engage all parts of society in defensive efforts. The comprehensive defence approach requires a patient buildup of national capabilities.


“The Silk Road, Sand Castles and the US-China Rivalry” by Alain Guidetti

While rivalry increases between China and the United States in the military, commercial, and financial governance fields, the author looks at how the options are increasingly narrowing for the two powers, short of risking military conflict for regional pre-eminence, an option that (almost) nobody wants to see happen.


“Cyber Jihad: Understanding and Countering Islamic State Propaganda” by Dr Christina Schori Liang

By using a sophisticated and effective communications strategy, IS has been successful in leveraging social media platforms to recruit young men and women worldwide. This paper explores why IS has been so effective and recommends better ways of addressing the roots of radicalization and countering extremist narratives.


“International Shifts and Their Security Impact on the Middle East” by Dr Anthony H. Cordesman

The world needs to be more cautious about assuming that it can predict the impact of the next generations of changes in multipolar power, global economic trends, and even sub-issues such as growth in the demand for particular types of energy. This paper looks at recent geopolitical changes in the Middle East and how they could be interpreted as strategic evolutions in the balance of power.



Asian Conflicts Report

The Asian Conflicts Report series presents timely and relevant research and analysis on issues related to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is written by established regional experts and new and emerging scholars, journalists, and analysts from around the world. It is our intention to provide a forum not only for the discussion of new issues but also for new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom.


In the inaugural issue, entitled “The Geopolitics of Extremism: ISIS in Asia”, several authors provide insight into the current and emerging implications of the transformation of violent extremism from the old al-Qaeda focus on franchized terrorism to a new, dynamic model led by, but certainly not limited to, IS. This new breed of violent extremism focuses not only on terrorism as a tool to bring about change in the distant future, but also on creating an extremist army capable of capturing and holding territory and establishing a new Islamic caliphate in the here and now. What the experts from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Singapore clearly show is that this new, more virulent version of violent extremism has the potential to change the strategic landscape as fundamentally as did al-Qaeda on 11 September 2001, even in countries that at present seem relatively free from IS influence.


Editorials are short, policy-relevant analysis and opinion pieces dealing with current events and security issues that are published on the GCSP website and in the newsletter. In 2015 we featured many editorials that focused on news events and emerging issues in international security.


In response to a number of incidents of terrorism around the world, our in-house experts and fellows wrote about “After Paris: The Challenge of Returning Fighters” (Aaron Stein and Michael Stephens), “Getting a Digital Foothold against the World’s Most Dangerous Start-up” (Dr Christina Schori Liang), and “Bombing Hospitals and Getting Away with It” (Ed Girardet). With the refugee crisis dominating Europe’s political agenda over the summer, Dr Caty Clément provided her analysis of the situation in “The Refugees on Our Watch: Europe’s Pandora Box?”, while Alain Guidetti looked to Europe’s eastern neighbours in “Ukraine’s Western Dilemma: Use of Force or Negotiation?”.


Looking to transnational emerging issues in international security, Dr Carl Ungerer outlined “The Force of Ideas: Leadership in International Security Policy”, while Aapo Cederberg and Pasi Eronen gave sharp warnings in “Wake up, West! The Era of Hybrid Warfare Is upon Us” and Anna Brach and Dr Khalid Koser highlighted connections in “Climate Change, Health, and Migration”.



The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) is an international foundation supported by the Swiss government, with 48 member states as well as the Canton of Geneva. It was created for the primary purpose of promoting peace, security and stability through executive education and training, applied policy research and dialogue.


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