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Delegitimising Violence in a Global Era: the prospects for pre-emptive civility

Launch of Global Civil Society 2006/7 yearbook at LSE

Tuesday 3 October, 6.30pm
Old Theatre, Old Building

Suicide bombings, collateral damage, hostages, air strikes and 'proportionate response' pepper the lexicon of twenty-first century politics. War and violence is high on the political agenda - issues that global civil society cannot evade and is grappling with. What is the relationship between civil society and violence? Is it ever justified for non-state actors to use violence? If so, can moral and legal limits be imposed? Should civil society take responsibility for identifying and helping to quell conflict? What can be learnt from Western and Islamic traditions about the complex relationship between violence, civil society and legitimacy?

Globalisation has changed the nature and definitions of 'war', questioning whether it can ever be morally justifiable. If there are cases where the use of force is justified - for example to protect against human rights violations - this should take place within a new ethical/legal framework. Global civil society is the medium through which this framework can be developed and sustained.

The same set of globalising forces that favoured the rise of 'progressive' civil society actors has spawned terror groups that operate across borders and use new forms of communication, transport, media and weaponry. Yet the 'war on terror' has, if anything, catalysed more violence: each act of 'pre-emptive self-defence' justifying further acts of terror. The so-called 'Clash of Civilizations', a notion that underpins both terror and 'war on terror', has polarized debate and silenced more nuanced interpretations. Exploring ideas about war and peace in Islamic and Western traditions hold the seeds of new approaches - for example, recovering the notion of civility, which can help delegitimise violence and create spaces for debate.

Global Civil Society 2006/7 explores the complex relationship between violence, civil society and legitimacy in a unique dialogue that crosses political, cultural and religious boundaries. This edition of the Yearbook also includes new research on economic and social rights, the politics of water, and football. Chapters include:

  • 'Not even a Tree': delegitimising violence and the prospects for pre-emptive civility, by Heba Raouf Ezzat and Mary Kaldor
  • Bringing Violence 'Back Home', by Jenny Pearce
  • Pipe dream or Panacea? Global Civil Society and Economic and Social Rights, by Marlies Glasius
  • War and Peace: the role of global civil society, by Mary Kaldor, Denisa Kostovicova, and Yahia Said
  • Water: a global contestation, by Willemijn Dicke, Patrick Bond, Fadia Daibes-Murad, Sanjeev Khagram, Alessandro Palmieri, Carlos Vainer, Zoë Wilson and Patricia Wouters
  • The Church, the Mosque and Global Civil Society, by Mark Juergensmeyer
  • The Odd Couple: football and global civil society, by David Goldblatt

'Even though current public interest and engagement in issues of global violence are the results of terribly tragic and disturbing events, it is good that these matters are receiving widespread attention. I argue for a wider use of our voice in the working of global civil society - to be distinguished from military initiatives and strategic activities of governments. The Global Civil Society Yearbook can make a substantial contribution to the expression of public voice without border.'
Amartya Sen


For more information, contact:


The launch of Global Civil Society 2006/7 takes place 6.30-8pm on Tuesday 3 October in the Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A. The event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Speakers include:

  • Martin Albrow, visiting fellow, Centre for the Study of Global Governance, LSE
  • Heba Raouf Ezzat, lecturer, Centre for Political Research and Studies, Cairo University
  • Mary Kaldor, director, Centre for the Study of Global Governance, LSE

For more information please contact: Fiona Holland on 020 7955 7434 / f.c.holland@lse.ac.uk| or Jess Winterstein on 020 7955 7060, j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk|

Global Civil Society 2006/7 is a collaboration between LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance| and UCLA's Center for Civil Society|. It is published by Sage Publications and costs £24.99.

For more information see Global Governance| or http://www.sagepub.co.uk/booksProdDesc.nav?prodId=Book230669| 

posted 25 September 2006