In its third edition, OBSERVARE International Conference has acquired a remarkable international projection, with participants coming from more than sixty Universities from 16 different countries. This made it necessary to anticipate the work for the afternoon of May 17, 2017, with thematic panels taking place at the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa. The plenary sessions and thematic panels were held on 18 and 19 May at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with the participation of Portuguese and foreign speakers, who promoted a rich debate on the major themes of the 3rd OBSERVARE International Conference.
THE GREAT THEMES OF THE CONFERENCE
1. The individual and the collective in International Relations
The discourse on the international system in its various dimensions (relations between sovereign states, transnational processes, globalizing trends...) should be aware that ultimately people are at stake, regardless of the scale considered. The humanization of reflections on international issues is therefore necessary and should be done by means of recognizing the individual as a subject of international life and bear this in mind while approaching the large population movements: demographic imbalances, migration and refugee flows, urban concentration and population dispersion
2. Globalization and new spaces
Ongoing processes in contemporary societies and the international system have significantly changed the relationship with the physical spaces, with nature in its material dimension, and with the territories inhabited by people. If there are cases where de-territorialisation seems to prevail, it is also true that spatial rooting remains unavoidable. Porosity or even the abolition of borders matches the affirmation of identities and the emergence of new economic, institutional or cultural spaces, either by means of informal processes, or resulting from decisions by public authorities.
3. Ideas, ideologies and innovation
With the international sphere being a domain where the balance of powers still prevails, it is worth exploring the importance and strength of that apparently frail element that are ideas. The weight of ideological conceptions appears to be decisive to explain numerous collective actions and movements; and the influence of philosophical, political or religious doctrines, even when they are considered obsolete, may show their significance both in the shared perceptions and in the major historical trends.
4. New approaches and solutions to the refugee crisis: the case study of Higher Education in Emergencies
At the United Nations Summit in September 2016 on mass movements of refugees and migrants, Member States recognized the crucial role of higher education in emergency situations and, for the first time, made a commitment to make progress to strengthen the potential Higher education as a means of strengthening the resilience of communities and contributing to the reconstruction of countries in post-conflict situations. This session aims to discuss ways to implement this international commitment on a sustainable basis. Participants will address issues related to the establishment of a Rapid Response Mechanism for Higher Education in Emergencies, their requirements and impact, based on existing best practices, such as the experience of the Global Platform for Support to Syrian Students, launched in 2013 by the President Jorge Sampaio.
1. The individual as an actor of international life
Larger or smaller, or even global, group entities have a role to play in international relationships. The anonymity of large groups, however, does not allow forgetting that human beings are always at stake and that individuals themselves are often influential players in the international system.
2. Demographic trends and international relations
Population growth is not limited to raising the general problem of humankind's survival on Earth, but has an impact on the life of societies and the way they relate to each other. Similarly, demographic imbalances and contrasts between overpopulation and underpopulation or ageing often introduce factors of crisis on the world stage.
3. Large population movements
The size of population flows across national borders is a characteristic of our time: the tourist movements reach numbers never attained before, migrations have become truly global, and refugee flows have reached dramatic proportions. The mobility of crowds alters previous balances, raises new forms of coexistence between communities and strongly interferes in the relations between societies.
4. Economic spaces and security spaces
At a time when many economic processes have become global, a plurality of larger or smaller spaces remain, whether defined by integrated markets or as strategic crossing points. Thus, is their security imperative? Guaranteed by whom? In other words, are economic subsystems always protected by security subsystems?
5. Cities and regions and internationalization processes
The tendency for subnational entities to become actors of international life, relating independently, outside central powers, and adopting internationalization strategies, in what is known as "paradiplomacy", is increasing. Hence the advantage of studying the role of certain areas and, even more, of the cities, considered to be the true knots of globalization.
6. End of ideologies? Its impact on international relations
The fact that the first centenary of the Bolshevik October Revolution in Russia is held in 2017 is a good excuse to reflect on the influence of ideologies in the international field, at a time when many herald the decline of ideologies, but when the said neoliberal trends seem to prevail over other concepts or models of society.
7. Education for global citizenship
The traditional topic of education for development intended not only to influence overcoming underdevelopment, but also to contribute to a more just and equitable international order. More recently, however, it has become clear that development issues are inseparable from environmental problems, also incorporating a human security component. Thanks to these new dimensions, the concept broadens to the issue of global citizenship in a compromise established across borders.
8. The issue of the "global commons" and the new dimensions of spaces
The oceans, the seabed, international waters, the earth's atmosphere, and outer space are natural elements that do not belong to any state in particular, as they are collective property of humankind. Probably they should be joined by cyberspace, another unnatural reality but of human construction. As common heritage, these "global commons" represent new problems for international law and have become a major topic in the relations between countries.