On 20 November 2018, BICC hosted an international academic conference entitled “Stabilisation—For Whom and to What Ends?” in Bonn. The conference brought together a good 80 participants, academics and practitioners from around the world, to exchange research insights and discuss their understanding of ‘stabilisation’.
‘Stabilisation’ is becoming increasingly important as a policy paradigm in international security and development policy. However, different approaches to stabilisation are discussed in academia, policy and practice. Often, there is a tension between short-term approaches to stabilization that are dominated by concerns for security and the establishment or maintenance of order and more long-term perspectives which seek to transform the underlying structures, e.g. with regard to democracy, peace and human rights. BICC’s international scientific conference reflected this controversy. The lively and engaged exchange of the participants was enhanced by the highly interactive, participatory format of the conference.
The leading questions of the conference, introduced by Esther Meininghaus, Katja Mielke and Max Mutschler, formed the basis for the discussions of the day:
a) What is our understanding of stabilisation?
b) How does stabilisation work in practice?
c) Does the growing significance of stabilisation imply abandoning support for democracy and human rights, focusing instead on the establishment and maintenance of order?
In three parallel topical groups, the participants shared their views on three core themes related to stabilisation: “Peacekeeping and Military Intervention”, “Train and Equip Programmes and Security Sector Reform” and “Migration Management and Humanitarian and Development Aid”. Three parallel discussion groups on Iraq, Syria and Mali also followed these questions. Additionally, the participants were invited to discuss the results of these breakout groups in a ‘market place’ and in plenary sessions.