Relationship and Frictions between Justice, Peace and Governance

At the international symposium „Just Peace Governance“ in honour of Harald Muller, researchers offered manifold prospects on PRIF’s future research programme

Prestigious, international experts had been invited to PRIF’s symposium „Just Peace Governance” which was organized on two occasions: During this year, the institute will start its new research programme under the same title and its director Harald Müller had celebrated his 60. birthday only a few weeks earlier. Good reasons for more than 80 guests to spend 19 and 20 June at PRIF. Among the renown researchers were Ernst-Otto Czempiel (first director of PRIF, Emeritus of Frankfurt University), Dieter Senghaas (Emeritus of Bremen University), Thomas Risse and Tanja Börzel (both FU Berlin), Michael Zürn (WZB/Hertie School of Governance Berlin), Tanja Brühl, Nicole Deitelhoff and Rainer Forst (all three Frankfurt University), Hauke Brunkhorst (Flensburg University), Nina Tannenwald (Brown University), and Richard Price (University of British Columbia).

In 1996 Harald Müller was appointed PRIF’s director, since 1999 he is also a professor for International Relations at the Goethe-University Frankfurt. Already since 1984, Müller gives lectures as a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. Under his management, PRIF has become a member of the prestigious Leibniz Association in January 2009. As a Principal Investigator and member of the Board of Directors he also contributes to Frankfurt University's Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders". His research focuses on world order politics, especially as an arms control expert Müller has made a name for himself. From 1999 to 2005, he served as a member of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters of the UN Secretary General, in 2004 he chaired the Board. Like only few researchers, Müller combines internationally accepted basic research with policy consulting and manages to convert his research findings into practical policy options.

The symposium as well as PRIF’s future research programme analyse the coherencies and frictions between “justice”, “peace” and “governance”. Müller explains about the combination of these terms: “At a first glance, they suggest the idea of ‘all good things going together’. But scrutinizing them shows that diverging ideas of justice, moral and other norms can become triggers for conflicts, and yes, even cause wars”. Under which circumstances this could happen and under which circumstances ideas of justice could promote peace has to be examined in the context of different topics, policy fields, and world religions. Within the new research programme, PRIF currently plans projects about perceptions of justice in arms control and disarmament, the role of culture and religion in conflicts, and the relationship between justice and law, i.e. international law or human rights. These early drafts were put to the test by the panelist of the symposium who also gave impulses from their own research, for example from the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” or from the Research Center (SFB) “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood” in Berlin.

Already during the symposium it became clear that there exists a large number of different perceptions of justice, which, in addition, are explained and enriched by further terms as “fairness”, “participation”, “moral”, or “ownership”. Different concepts of governance were also discussed in-depth – among them were the governance of the nation state, supranational governance, or even “governments without governance”. Like in public debates as well, the discussion among scientists became vivid when the role of religion in conflicts was dealt with. The question was whether religions can cause or trigger conflicts, whether they only play a minor role, or if, on the contrary, religions even can promote peace because of the values they convey, for example by commandments.

At any rate, there was a broad consensus that all sides of the “magic triangle” of justice, peace, and governance, are in need of further research and that aspects of justice have been neglected for too long in international relations. At the concluding round table, Walter Jürgen Schmid, German Ambassador to Moscow emphasised: “Questions of justice are not to be underestimated in international relations”.

The symposium was financed by the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF) and the “Freunde und Förderer der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt”. Six of Müller’s current and former Ph.D. students organized the event: Una Becker, Claudia Baumgart-Ochse, Nicole Deitelhoff, Niklas Schörnig, Simone Wisotzki, and Jonas Wolff. The organizers, the sponsors, and the guests invited succeeded in planning the whole event in secret. Only on Müller’s birthday, one month ago, he was completely surprised when the programme was presented to him.

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