Call for Peacemakers 2016 Conference and Workshop by Koç University, Istanbul

A Cutting Edge Conference and Workshop Series by Koç University International Special Projects Tea.

As the Syrian conflict has resulted in Syria being the top source country of refugees in the world, most media and public attention has turned towards refugees fleeing Syria, especially those taking dangerous journeys through Turkey along the Balkan route. Consequently, the question of security has become a hot topic in the agenda of migration policy makers at the national and international level.  The security-based perspectives conceptualize international migration as a threat to national security.  Hence, arguments for the securitization of borders have been widespread during the second half of the 20th century, but have especially gained currency in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The securitization approach puts the national sovereignty at the center of analysis and policy making. This has resulted in an increase of securitization of borders; intensifying practices of detention and deportation of foreigners, at the expense of abridging fundamental rights.  Moreover, these measures put the human security of migrants and refugees at stake.

Restrictive immigration policies and EU regulations force refugees to attempt to reach Europe through irregular and hazardous routes. In this context, over the last few years, the Balkan route has increasingly become one of the most important routes for refugees and migrants originating from Syria, but also those from Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, with the intention of reaching Western Europe. Especially in the last year, the number of migrants taking the Balkans route has increased exponentially, especially after Germany declared it would open its borders for hundreds of thousands of refugees. However, until they arrive at their destinations, migrants and refugees encounter extreme hardships as a result of the harsh conditions of the journey; they face abuses by state officials or smugglers, and are subject to detention and deportation along the route. Hence, most are immobilized before reaching their intended destinations.

Indeed, the current methods of managing the borders and the flow along the Balkan route, coincide with the EU tendency to securitize migration. This is why the focus on the workshop on the Balkan corridor provides a suitable case study to discuss securitization and its impact on human security, as well as to generate solutions which go beyond the dilemma between state and human security.

This effort aims to frankly and openly address one of the most salient obstacles in our global efforts toward peacemaking: the prejudices that color and sometimes dictate our interactions with one another.
The previous Peacemakers Events showcased pioneering work in a new age of conflict resolution and were developed out of the idea of dissecting the roots of prejudice and bringing together  communities, that have historically experienced conflict from regional dynamics through the lens of dignity and the role dignity plays in the breakdown and restoration of relationships. The workshops that were led by Dr. Donna Hicks until 2014 and Dr. Govinda Clayton since then, gave an opportunity to many young leaders coming from Turkey and the selected countries to engage in interactive, evidence based, intensive workshop to overcome the dimensions of prejudice currently entrenched in the dynamics between the countries of focus.

The focus of this year’s Peacemakers will be on a highly sensitive global issue from a regional perspective. The title of Peacemakers 2016 is “Migration and Securitization of Europe: Views from the Balkan Corridor”. The participants will be, first, familiarized with the notion of conflict, negotiation, key differences between migrants and refugees, legal and political problems of the European Union states. During and after the workshop, participating students will be able to apply this theoretical knowledge into practice, to the Balkan case.

This year the Workshop will be led by Dr. Govinda Clayton, a professional in the field of International Conflict Analysis, with an award for teaching innovation. He will mentor young leaders coming from many different countries, who will engage in an interactive, intensive workshop aiming to overcome the dimensions of prejudice currently entrenched in regional dynamics. The goal is to raise the future leaders who are respectful towards diversity.