New Western Academy research theme explores possibilities for peace in the twenty-first century

November 30, 2023

Various country flags flying against a blue sky

Without peace between states, global human rights are insecure. Recently, the international community has seen threats to interstate peace on a scale unthinkable for decades. At this critical moment when recent and ongoing conflicts have destabilized several countries around the world, the international legal system designed after World War II is failing to secure peace.

Beginning in January 2025, the Western Academy for Advanced Research’s newest theme “Exploring possibilities for peace in the twenty-first century” will examine the simultaneous rise of interstate war and international law in the twenty-first century. With an interdisciplinary lens, the team will explore how international law and the international community may adapt to better secure interstate peace today.


Ryan Liss

Professor Valerie Oosterveld

Valerie Oosterveld

 Bipasha Baruah

Bipasha Baruah 

The theme will be led by Western Fellows, Professors Ryan Liss (Law), Valerie Oosterveld (Law), and Bipasha Baruah (Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies) along with a cohort of Ambassadorial Visiting Fellows, John T. Holmes, Masud Husain and Sabine Nölke, LL.B. '85, (all formerly of Global Affairs Canada). This core team of scholars and policymakers will bring a nuanced understanding of conflict and the role of law in international relations.

The team will examine the unique challenges and possibilities for interstate peace and international justice in this century exploring the influence of new conditions ranging from the impact of climate change on conflict; to the significance of drones and autonomous weapons in war; to the role of digital and social media in conflict, revolution, and investigations of wartime crimes. This interdisciplinary exploration of the sources of conflict and responses to conflict will enable the team to break down barriers that currently exist when studying these issues in isolation.

Through academic and public engagement including workshops, public lectures, and a final report, the project aims to spark a novel interdisciplinary conversation about the causes and responses to interstate conflict that will help guide the direction of the field. The theme’s work will also have a concrete and immediate impact on policy debates providing valuable insights for policymakers who often have limited time to reflect on world-shaping decisions. In examining the causes of conflict and how to reduce it, the theme aims to envision a more equal and just world.

For all inquiries, please contact theme leader, Professor Ryan Liss