Belgrade Security Forum was open with Academic Event titled “How Conflict Sensitive is EU Crisis Response?” with welcoming words from the organisers. Sonja Stojanović Gajić, of the BSF Steering Committee, Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy stated that the Belgrade Security Forum is unique.
“It is not just journalists’ and politicians’ job to discuss. We also need people whose job is to think and reflect issues of global importance. This is why the Belgrade Security Forum with its Academic Event is unique. This year we are defining the new normalities.”
Keynote speaker, professor Roger Mac Ginty, Durham University, talked about difficulty that international has in reading the local, and vice versa.
“The term local has become a buzzword in policy and academic circles in recent years, with an emphasis on local participation, local buy-in, local legitimacy etc. But where and what is the local, and how do outsiders access it?”, Mac Ginty asked.
His speech draw from several research projects and unpacked the notion of the local and considered the practical implications of attempting to make contact with it.
“The ‘local’ is even more local than many of us realise. When international organizations use the term local, often they mean national and city. The lives that we live are hyperlocal, very local, micro-local, they are lives of particular networks, lives of particular routes of busses, of trams. The local is highly individualised and personalised, it is a life of embodiment and enactment, a very familiar life. More recently, all of international organizations rediscovered the local, it is the root to the legitimacy. If we get local partnership and local consent, we will all be authentic and sustainable. Programs and projects will be resilient.”
Agenda for Peace from 1992, often regarded as the keystone document in peace-building, Mac Ginty argued did not mention the word local. However, a decade later we are tripping over the word local so “even the NATO has discovered the word.”
He then introduced the project The Everyday Peace Indicators and a bottom-up methodology for capturing local opinion. The main point is that communities identify their own indicators and not researchers. The project operates in three communities each in South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe and two in Colombia.
In answering the question which locals should be listened to if the locals have different views of peace, Mac Ginty answered “the local, in this case, is the one shopping and carrying the bags from one side to another of the Mitrovica bridge.”