Public Seminar: Global Challenges to Peace in the 21st Century

January 27, 2023

Tokyo, Japan

“Global Challenges to Peace in the 21st Century”


On Friday 27 January 2023, Toda Peace Institute hosted two panel discussions on the theme of “Global Challenges to Peace in the 21st Century”. The panels were comprised of Toda Peace Institute Senior Research Fellows and Research Advisors. The discussions were held in front of an invited audience at the Kioi Hall in Chiyoda City, Tokyo and were chaired by Toda Peace Institute Director, Prof. Kevin Clements.

The first panel was on the topic of the Rise of the Extreme Right, Climate Crisis and Threats to Democracy.  The first speaker, Dr Lisa Schirch, talked about the impact of social media technology, especially on the rise of the extreme right and the spread of hateful content online. Dr Schirch outlined the ways in which digital tools are not neutral mirrors, but actually distort our view of ourselves and others. The second speaker, Olivia Stokes Dreier, made the point that the most common regime in the world is rule by elected authoritarian leaders, often called electoral autocracy. Many forces are at play in this complex dynamic including toxic polarisation and Toda’s research wants to understand how a growing politics of fear is feeding upon global existential threats.

The focus of the discussion then switched to climate change. Prof. Kazuo Matsushita spoke about the need to make an early transition to an energy economy that is less prone to pandemics and can avoid climate crisis. In particular a ‘green’ recovery is an opportunity to get out of economic recession in a way that works toward the UN’s sustainable development goals. Finally, Dr Volker Boege outlined the challenges facing communities in the Pacific Islands who are among the worst affected by rising sea levels and climate change. Toda’s focus when researching in collaboration with Pacific Island people is to try to transcend Western ways of thinking to ensure that Pacific voices are heard and Pacific priorities are paramount. 

The second panel was on the topic Maintaining Global Order and Peace After Ukraine. The first speaker was Prof. Stein Tønnesson, who predicted that the war in Ukraine will last for a long time. East Asia has a vested interest in helping resolve the Ukraine situation, as a region which has lived in peace since the 1980s and is the engine of global economic growth. It is hoped that China and India in particular can exert influence. The next speaker, Dr Stuart Casey Maslen spoke about the grave violations of international humanitarian law by the forces involved in the conflict. These war crimes must be prosecuted according to international law and the perpetrators brought to justice. The third speaker, Prof. Vladimir Baranovsky, examined options for ending the conflict in Ukraine and the role of outside states in exerting pressure on both Russia and Ukraine to become more settlement-oriented.  Finally, Prof. Hugh Miall discussed ways in which conflict resolution principles might be applied in an effort to bring the conflict to an end.

The audience responded appreciatively to the presentations from all speakers participating in the two discussions and a number of interesting questions were posed by members of the audience.

The recordings of the seminar will soon be available on Toda Peace Institute’s YouTube page.


Image: Anna Om/Shutterstock