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About Mary Kaldor

Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of ‘New and Old wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era’ 3rd edition, 2012, and In June 20, 2017, a new book by Christine Chinkin and Mary Kaldor – International Law and New Wars .

Articles by Mary Kaldor

This week’s front page editor


Adam Bychawski is an editorial assistant at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Reconceptualising war

What if defeating the enemy was the justification for war, but not its real goal? What if its goal was a certain kind of power-brokerage?

Can Greece Lead the Way?

As the left across Europe flounders in the wake of the economic crisis, the Greek socialist party under George Papandreou could prove the exception with its dramatic election victory. His aim is nothing less than a pioneering form of progressive government that combines green development, democratic openness and international reconciliation.

Dismantling the global nuclear infrastructure

Arms control belongs to an era when an absolutist view of state sovereignty prevailed. We need the courage to move to global nuclear disarmament.

Poverty and activism: the heart of global civil society

The multiple realities of poverty in India are a key arena where the arguments about global civil society are being tested, say the editors of the new edition of the Global Civil Society Yearbook.  

Gaza: the "new war"

Izzeldin Abuelaish's tragic story opened a chink in the Israeli public conscience. To exit from a war without end will require a commitment to human - not just national - security

The paradox of Basra

A visit to Iraq's second city reveals fraught divisions of wealth and ideology

Secure Afghanistan

Human security ought to be the goal of any Obama surge in Afghanistan, not defeat of Al Qaeda.

Crisis as prelude to a new Golden Age

The financial crisis is not just a result of mis-aligned incentives and bad regulation. A neo-Schumpeterian view suggests that this epochal shift is the start of a re-shaping of institutions and power distribution to fit the world of information technology and clean energy. It will need guiding, argues Mary Kaldor.

'New thinking' needs new direction

The Pentagon could change from Terror Warrior to Human Security agent. It needs the Presidential direction to do so.

Sovereignty, status and the humanitarian perspective

Arguments for and against independence should be judged pragmatically, against a criterion of safety and end to violence. This humanitarian perspective releases us from the dilemmas of sovereignty and status-based approaches, argues Mary Kaldor.

Europeanising Cyprus

The search for a political solution to the decades-old Cyprus problem is at a delicate stage. It needs a push, say Mient Jan Faber & Mary Kaldor.

The Balkans-Caucasus tangle: states and citizens

The risks of instability in 2008 in a range of lands between Bosnia and Georgia require a new focus from Europe, says Mary Kaldor.

How to free hostages: war, negotiation, or law-enforcement?

The seizure, and sometimes killing, of civilian hostages is not random violence but part of a deliberate strategy that is changing the relationship between war and politics, says Mary Kaldor. How should citizens, and their governments, respond?

(This article was first published on 29 September 2004)

Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report

The dignity of Palestinians, along with their hopes of a political settlement, are being crushed by conflict, economic degradation, and the world's neglect. Mient Jan Faber & Mary Kaldor's visit to Gaza highlights the problems and suggests an essential ingredient of progress.

America's Iraq plight: old and new thinking

In Iraq, it's time for new approaches focusing on people rather than states, argues Mary Kaldor – who finds Michael Lind's emphasis on geopolitical moves too parochial.

Peace in our time

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. Forty-nine of openDemocracy’s distinguished contributors, from Mariano Aguirre to Slavoj Zizek, Neal Ascherson to Jonathan Zittrain – offer their predictions for the coming year. Since this is openDemocracy, we did not expect them to agree. We were not disappointed. (Part Two).

London lives

The best response to London’s terror attacks is to stay calm and keep a steady focus on existing, vital political issues, says Mary Kaldor.

Iraq: the wrong war

The global political economy is producing failed states, networked insurgency and extremist politics. Fighting “old wars” in response, as in Iraq, is a guarantee of failure, says Mary Kaldor.

Parallel politics in Iraq

As politicians squabble in Baghdad, does a gathering of Iraqis in Cairo more truly represent the country’s interests?

Safe democracy

How should democratic societies respond to terrorism? On 11 March 2005, a year after bombs in Madrid killed 191 people and almost killed thousands, a major summit in the Spanish capital will address this most fundamental question. Here, Mary Kaldor suggests an agenda.

Return to Iraq

Six months after their first trip to post-Saddam Iraq, Mary Kaldor and Yahia Said return to find that trust in the coalition has collapsed. They assess the nature of the violence and the likelihood of overcoming it. A catastrophe is possible but not necessary, is the conclusion to their report, from which we publish this extract.

First lessons from Spain

The Madrid bombings have taught us a powerful lesson: the ‘war on terror’ plays into the hands of its enemies. Politicians must learn to be modest in the face of those who perpetrate • “jihad”.

Global civil society: the politics of a new world?

From Porto Alegre to anti-war movements, 2003 was a tumultuous year of political mobilisation. As the 2004 World Social Forum opens in Mumbai, will “global civil society” build an enduring space in support of a more humane form of globalisation?

Iraq - the democratic option

Amid terrorist carnage, military blunders and CIA panic, Mary Kaldor finds hope for a democratic future in the creative social energies of ordinary Iraqis. Will its possibilities be crushed by America’s vaulting strategic ambition and Britain’s disdainful pragmatism? The US presidential election in 2004 may help decide.

Terrorism as regressive globalisation

An expert on modern warfare analyses the qualitatively new forms of terrorism we all face today – and the responses to them. How effective will a ‘war on terror’ turn out to be, and what of international law?

A Message from European Citizens to European Leaders

A gathering of “Citizens’ Europe” alongside the European Union summit of June 2003 in Thessaloniki articulated the concerns of many Europeans about the continent’s new constitution, its responsibilities over the Iraq war and security issues, and its policies towards migrants and asylum-seekers. The meeting participants, the Thessaloniki Social Forum and the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, sent this powerful message to the summiteers.

Iraq: a war like no other

The war in Iraq serves the interests of a US power elite rather than democracy and global justice. In the midst of conflict, it is urgent to retrieve an international humanitarian perspective, one that can bind popular support to the ideal of genuinely humane intervention.

A British journalist at a recent seminar I attended talked approvingly about the alliance between American neo-conservatism and liberal interventionism. He favours the current war in Iraq.

In place of war, open up Iraq

Can you be against war on Iraq without giving succour to Saddam? This is a new version of an old dilemma, says one of the leading voices of the 1980s Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and European Nuclear Disarmament. Activists who opposed the nuclear arms race while supporting democratisation of the Soviet bloc helped carve a space where freedom could grow. Could the same happen in Iraq?

9/11: What should we do now?

A group of key thinkers on matters of war, fear, human and international relations discuss the possible outcome of post-9/11 policies at an event held by openDemocracy and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in October, 2001. Here are some excerpts…

New war, new justice

The response to the attacks on the United States must be the creation of a new global covenant for justice and peace, say David Held and Mary Kaldor.

Understanding the message

The only possible approaches are political; to counter the sowing of fear and hatred with a strategy of winning hearts and minds.
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