The Flemish Peace Institute is an independent
institute for peace research at the Flemish Parliament.

Peace in foreign policy: Peace nations in times of crisis

Publication date: 11/04/2024

This analysis by Merel Selleslach and Maarten Van Alstein looks at how different states (Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland) and sub-state regions (Catalonia, Emilia-Romagna, Flanders, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Wales) in Europe developed a peace orientation in their foreign policy. It also examines how the war in Ukraine has impacted these approaches. Confronted with shifting foreign policy priorities, the analysis explores novel pathways for shaping peace policy in Europe.

Initially, it delineates how a robust historical national identity can serve as both inspiration and a foundation for a credible peace policy. Additionally, by exploring peace through various lenses and augmenting it with descriptive adjectives, it provides guidance to make peace tangible for policy practice. Drawing upon diverse adjectives such as agonistic, environmental, local, feminist, and multilateral peace, the analysis identifies a broad spectrum of policy domains and levels that can contribute to peace.

This fosters a collective responsibility across all policy fields, transcending beyond foreign, security, and defence policies. Furthermore, the analysis elaborates on how peace isn’t merely a value to be projected but a relationship to be actively practiced. Engaging in the promotion of peace within foreign policy inevitably generates tensions. To mitigate the risk of subsequent erosion of legitimacy and trust, the analysis argues, governments should maintain transparency regarding the dilemmas and tensions inherent in their policies.

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