The Interview | Amb. Thomas Greminger
How would you describe your organization in a few words? What is your role? What is your goal?
The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) is located in the Maison de la Paix, in the heart of International Geneva. The centre was founded over 25 years ago and works in executive training and the promotion of global cooperation. We facilitate dialogue across different sectors of society and we seek to address security-related topics holistically. We focus on around twenty main topics, ranging from cybersecurity and leadership to strategic anticipation and human security.
The centre specializes in executive courses, diplomatic dialogue, political analysis, and experience-sharing in the field of security policy.
The GCSP is widely recognized as a facilitator of dialogue between different segments of society working to promote world peace. We interact on a regular basis with diplomats, military personnel, government officials, senior executives from the private sector and civil society, journalists, scientists, and artists. The GCSP believes that these interactions nurture different worldviews, encourage creative thinking, and enhance contemporary security policy.
With that in mind, five years ago, the GCSP launched the Global Fellowship Initiative, which brings together leaders with a variety of expertise and experience from different geographies. As an offshoot of this initiative, we also created an incubator called The Creative Spark, which seeks to develop innovative projects and solutions for peace and security.
GCSP is both a true training organization and a platform for neutral, inclusive and impartial dialogue. We are internationally recognized for the quality of our courses and our capacity for bringing together people from different horizons, by serving as an exclusive platform for discussion, and debate between sectors that might not have met otherwise.
I took up my position as director on 1 May 2021. My role is mainly to ensure that the GCSP fulfills its mandate, which is to promote peace and security through its activities. In practice, that means I make sure the centre meets the expectations of the foundation board, as well as the needs of its community.
I have several goals for the coming years. First that our courses continue to offer the level of quality and relevance we are known for. Given the speed at which the world is changing, that will require significant investment and strategic anticipation. Second, I believe that the centre's values, expertise, and reputation put it in a unique position to facilitate diplomatic processes (Track 1.5 and Track 2). We hope to further develop our activities to promote dialogue at three distinct levels: international and geopolitical, such as relations between the west, China, and Russia; regional security, for instance, in the Eastern Mediterranean and Syria; and negotiations on global governance conducted in Geneva. Finally, I plan to further develop our research and analysis capacities with regard to our main topics of interest. That will enable us to provide our partners and our community with insights that help them better understand this world we live in.
Among the concentration of actors in Geneva (OIs, NGOs, permanent missions, academia, and the private sector), who do you work with and how?
We work with multiple actors in the context of our various activities. Our training courses are attended by many executives of Geneva-based IOs organizations and NGOs. We also provide bespoke training for organizations such as WTO, WHO and diplomatic missions.
We are also committed to working with our neighbors at Maison de la Paix. Among others, we are active on the steering and management committees of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform.
As part of our mission, we invest a great deal in bringing together the various actors across the International Geneva community. For instance, we are working with Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator to organize the Science and Diplomacy Week this coming May.
Additionally, through our Fellowship and Creative Spark programs, we explore collaborations with organizations like CERN, the Canton of Geneva, and the University of Geneva. The Creative Spark recently hosted two flagship projects: first, the secretariat of the International Gender Champions, a new network of decision-makers from across the globe that aims to break down gender barriers in business and government; and second, the Climate Action Accelerator, which has since become a non-profit with the mission of supporting a critical mass of community organizations to scale up the implementation of climate solutions, limit global warming to less than 2°C, and prevent a potentially dangerous escalation.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Geneva with regards to the development of your activity?
International Geneva is positioned in a way that it can play a major role in peace and security. It is a recognized global governance hub, with numerous private sector organizations, NGOs, IOs, the UN, and missions all in the same place. It is also located in a region with outstanding universities and research institutions specializing in digital and emerging technologies. In a highly polarized world, International Geneva offers a safe space where we may meet, learn, discuss and exchange political expertise from credible sources.
However, there is a blatant lack of cooperation among these various actors. They still operate in silos, which leads to missed opportunities and wasted resources. Today, the International Geneva community needs to put their heads together and think about creating effective mechanisms to break down barriers and cooperate more effectively and systematically.
What do you think global governance should look like 20 or 30 years from now?
Most current and emerging security threats are transnational, what Kofi Annan has called "passportless problems". You can't launch an airstrike against a virus. You can not develop national solutions to problems like transnational organized crime, neither terrorism nor climate change. Transnational threats require multilateral responses. In a long-term world, we must stop thinking for the short term.
Twenty or thirty years from now, nations will have realized that they can't tackle today’s global challenges without international cooperation. They will have understood that they must reinvest in multilateral institutions and will have mobilized the political will to reform them. Unilateralism and transactionalism will be replaced by a renewed belief in cooperation and multilateralism. This will further strengthen the role of International Geneva as a global governance hub.
What question would you like to have been asked?
I can think of a few questions and I would love to know how experts from International Geneva would answer them!
What are the most significant negotiating processes currently underway in Geneva with the potential to reshape global governance? How can we help make these processes more effective through our capacity-building activities, our platforms for informal dialogue, and our expertise?
More specifically, I am thinking about negotiations in the field of health, environment and climate change, trade and humanitarian aid, as well as digitalization and cyberspace. These are vast and complex issues where non-governmental stakeholders like us can play a key role. To do so, it is important to pinpoint where International Geneva can add real value, namely by offering tools and expertise. We also need to identify the areas in which official diplomacy (track 1), international organizations, and governments show a real interest in working with us.