2014 SCID Symposium – Malcolm Russell – Stabilising the Debate: Destabilising the Totem of Stabilisation

In this presentation, Malcolm Russell examines the concepts of ‘stabilisation’ and ‘stability’, and the relationship between the two. In so doing, Malcolm exposes the power relations and efforts to control that are often less visible in immediate post-conflict intervention efforts. Malcolm examines these concepts by engaging with a debate on stabilisation between Roger Mac Ginty and Christian Dennys (in Stability: International Journal of Security and Development), notably on the subject of control and whether or not it is inherent to stabilisation. Malcolm argues that stabilisation need not be about control but that, in contrast, endeavouring to create what is referred to as stability is about control. Moreover, Malcolm suggests that the aim of endeavouring to create a condition referred to as stability is to promote and protect the interests of the actors who are intervening and undertaking such an endeavour, rather than in the interests of a long-term, viable peace. Moreover, aiming to create a condition called stability is counterproductive as it involves overriding and undermining the processes of national political and social reconciliation which are key to stabilisation.

Malcolm Russell has policy and operational experience as a British Diplomat for more than 25 years ranging from UN and EU negotiation to working in the field in fragile and conflicted states such as Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. He is accredited as an EU Expert in arms control and strategic trade (WMD) controls and as an expert on maritime security (particularly piracy) at the International Maritime Organisation. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Statecraft and Research Associate at the Research Centre on Intervention and Knowledge, Aberystwyth University.

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