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Morning, this is Alexandre Munafò from Interpeace, the international peacebuilding organisation based in Geneva.

With the UN World Food Programme (WFP) officially receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize this week, I explore in my piece below how Geneva's "peace hub" can help shape more peace-led humanitarian interventions.

photo journaliste

Alexandre Munafò,

12.12.2020


International Geneva needs more peace actors. The good news is that they are already here.


Photo article

An aerial view of Geneva and the Palais des Nations taken in June 2020 showing a giant ephemeral landart painting by Swiss French artist Saype entitled "World in Progress" representing two children drawing their ideal world. (KEYSTONE/Valentin Flauraud)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) officially received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize in an online ceremony on Thursday, serving as another reminder of the acute widespread poverty in the world and the link between hunger and peace. However, awarding one of the most prestigious world prizes to a UN humanitarian agency in spite of several other UN agencies and programmes having received it in the past is not an obvious choice.

The award raises a more fundamental, and controversial question: How do humanitarian interventions contribute to peace, and should they? While they certainly do respond to urgent and even critical needs, do they in any way lay the groundwork for peace to be sustained in that given context? Peace is inherently political and it must succeed in fostering long-term trust and cohesion between the parties in conflict. This leads to another question. Isn't it contrary to humanitarian principles to require humanitarian interventions to contribute to peace?

In Geneva, where some of the largest humanitarian agencies are hosted, this question is ever-present. It is behind the famous "nexus" agenda which is a set of reforms allowing humanitarian action to better understand its role in contexts of fragility.

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Anticipatory reads by GESDA


The multiple case for nuclear fusion energy. Over just the last week, news have popped up that: 1. the UK wants to build the first nuclear fusion power station, 2. China is turning on its “artificial sun” (a tokamak), and 3. that US physicists are rallying around their own national ambitious plan (see below). In the wake of nationalism moves observed in different fields, does that mean that multilateral efforts in nuclear fusion research are vain? That the ITER project which, within an international consortium, is currently building a fusion reactor in southern France, is in a dead-end? It is true that the complexity and the ever rising costs (now $22.5bn) of this gigantic experiment, which should be switched on in 2025 (at most), have aroused disappointment, discouragement if not skepticism...

It is actually exactly the opposite! ITER was conceived decades ago to study the scientific feasibility of using nuclear fusion as a sustainable, almost endless and safe source of energy. It is a research tool, and has been designed with the technologies that are at disposal as of today. But, if nuclear fusion is to be used all over the world to light up the bulbs in our living rooms, further similar power plants will have to be much smaller and cheaper. Moreover, they will leverage the most recent advances in science and technology (supercomputer simulations of entire tokamaks, 3D printing parts, use of magnet coils made of high-temperature superconductors, which barely exist today). In that sense, having various initiatives across the world, even on national levels, to plan for those next steps, should be seen as very positive.

-Olivier Dessibourg

(EN)
Photo article

(Photo: ITER)

US physicists rally around ambitious plan to build fusion power plant. A new american roadmap.

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'This is not science fiction', say scientists pushing for 'neuro-rights'. Access to the contents of people's minds creates a need for new laws.

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CRISPR gene therapy shows promise against blood diseases. Early successes to treat sickle-cell anaemia and β-thalassaemia

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China to expand weather modification program. It will cover an area larger than India.

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How climate change is ushering in a new pandemic era. A warming world is risking an explosion of new zoonotic pathogens.

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Editing the DNA of human embryos could protect us from future pandemics. The technique is, however, controversial

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Who will we be when this is all over? Besides the sufferings, the Covid-19 pandemic offers ways for people and societies to change for the better.

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.


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