Nordic Peace Revisited

Is there a Nordic peace model? How important is the Nordic brand as peace builders and peace nations in international diplomacy? These were some of the questions asked at the conference ‘Nordic Peace Revisited’ Mar. 18-19.

Norwegian peacekeeper with blue UN-helmet in front of plane.

UN peacekeeper from Norway in Sarajevo, 1992. Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev, Wikimedia Commons

Professor Peter Wallensteen from the University of Uppsala kicked off the conference with a key note on the history of Nordic peace. Questioning the peaceful relationship between the countries and their development of peace policies, Wallensteen discussed different narratives of historical voes; The selective memory of Sweden and Denmark on their longtime conflict and battles. Wallensteen further discussed ‘the Nordic balance’ between the east and the west during the cold war, as Sweden and Finland are not members of NATO, but Norway, Iceland and Denmark are. To describe the relationship between the countries, Wallensteen relied on the term ‘security community’ – where violent conflict between the countries is unthinkable.

Following Wallensteen’s key note, Nordic diplomats and academics commented on and continued the discussion of how the Nordic countries use peace in international diplomacy. Confirming in many ways the existence of a Nordic brand or image as leading on peace, diplomats on the panel argued that the Nordics are front-runners but that other countries are catching up. Thus, the Nordics may have to be innovative in a new field to maintain a strong image. With a touch of heat, panelists emphasized the difference in approach between the Nordic countries, and that there is room for even more cooperation between the Nordics as a force of good in international diplomacy – building a strong brand and thus power.

After the public event, the conference moved to a smaller room for fruitful discussions on elements of Nordic peace. Moving from cultural understandings and history to theories of peace, the discussion touched on the paradox of a strong and resilient Nordic peace brand, despite regional differences and an increase in militarization.

The conference was a collaboration between Nordic Branding (UiO), PRIO, and TAPRI, and received funding from ReNEW. It brought together younger and more experienced researchers and diplomats from across the Nordic region, stretching to the UK and Brazil. There will be a publication following the event, but the form of the publication is not decided.

Both the keynote and the panel discussion was recorded and is available on PRIO.org

Published May 22, 2019 10:19 AM - Last modified May 22, 2019 10:19 AM