Reflecting on peace

The Frankfurt Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), which is part of the Leibniz Association, invited leading researchers to engage in an exchange of views on this subject for two days. Germany’s largest peace research institute had two good reasons for doing this. Firstly, the current world situation is so strongly influenced by crises and conflicts that well-grounded analyses and solutions are urgently needed. That is why the conference is discussing questions such as: Which subjects can and must peace research consider?

Secondly, however, with the conference the PRIF is bidding farewell to Professor Dr Harald Müller, who for many years has been a member of its Executive Board and Director of its Research Department for International Security and World Order. Müller, who is, among other things, an internationally renowned specialist on disarmament and arms control, has made such a strong mark on the institute that it has often been referred to among experts simply as the “Müller institute”.

Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation are priorities of German foreign and security policy. For this reason, and also because Müller’s expertise is sought by the Federal Government, the opening speakers at the conference included Ambassador Dr Patricia Flor, Federal Government Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control. Flor has been Head of the Federal Foreign Office’s newly created Directorate-General for International Order, the United Nations and Arms Control since March 2015.

On the fringe of the conference, Flor referred to the relevance of the subjects under discussion. “Today one must ascertain that the international order is indeed endangered – especially in the area of peace and security, as well as disarmament and arms control. This can be seen in the Security Council of the United Nations, which is repeatedly unable to act – catchword Syria. However, it can also be observed in the field of disarmament and arms control. There the foreign minister has just set up an initiative to relaunch conventional arms control. Why? Because today, following the unlawful annexation of Crimea by Russia, as well as other developments, we can see that the pillars of the European security order are also no longer holding up.”

Referring to the conference, Flor added: “For us this means that we must pay even greater attention to the international order. Exchange with think tanks and with experts like Mr Müller who have devoted their lives to these questions is important for us as the Federal Foreign Office.“

Harald Müller himself ended the round of opening speeches. In very personal words to the assembled fellow researchers, he gave the abstract subject of the conference – peace – a directly tangible dimension. “The human element, empathy, friendship, solidarity in our actions,” said Müller, “these are what leave our souls intact and help us to remain human.”

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