Chapter 9: Laying the Foundations for Peace

Hilary French, Gary Gardner, and Erik Assadourian

Laying the foundations for lasting peace will require international cooperation on a broad range of fronts—from resisting aggression to combating terrorism, mediating peace settlements, and addressing underlying causes of conflict and instability such as poverty, overpopulation, disease, and environmental degradation. At the same time, the experience of recent decades has made it clear that building a secure world will require extensive interactions among a broad range of actors, including visionary and committed national and local politicians and government officials as well as engaged, globally-minded citizens.

In September 2000, the members of the United Nations agreed to reduce global poverty, disease, and societal inequities significantly by achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The targets adopted two years later at the World Summit on Sustainable Development rounded out the picture by addressing how countries can further improve social conditions by protecting critical natural systems. These goals were primarily adopted in order to address growing global inequities in a sustainable manner. In the post–9/11 world, however, where security threats have become the dominant concern, the MDGs can equally be seen as a means to increase national and global security.

Success in creating a more peaceful and secure world is far more likely if the civil sector is involved in the effort. Fortunately, the record of the past 15 years suggests that actors from civil society have emerged as skilled players in global politics and even as leaders on the broad range of issues relevant to global security.