Ambassador Dussey, in your capacity as Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), what is your main goal?
Ambassador Dussey: The GCSP equips policymakers and executives with the knowledge, skills and mindset to develop forward-thinking solutions to deal with an ever-changing security landscape. Our goal is to help current and future leaders be better decision-makers and nurture a global community of leaders who advance peace and security globally.
How do you do that exactly?
AD: The centre does that on several parallel tracks: through executive education, through applied policy analysis, public discussions and closed professional meetings. Our objective is that by 2020 the GCSP will be recognized as one of the world’s leading executive education centres when it comes to international security, peace and foreign policy. In that sense, we constantly strive to create more value for our participants, alumni, member states and partners. We achieve that by providing a highly interactive, participatory and innovative environment that encourages knowledge co-creation in support of cutting-edge contributions to peace and security challenges.
Why is Geneva so important to the GCSP as a location? What does it mean to leverage the unique "Esprit de Genève"?
AD: Location matters. We think of Silicon Valley for entrepreneurship or London for finance. For fresh perspectives on international affairs and governance, there is no better location than Geneva—the capital of peace and a place known worldwide for multilateral diplomacy, with 33 international organizations, 250 NGOs, 2,700 international conferences and 4,400 visits by heads of state and government, and ministers annually. Housed within the "Maison de la Paix" (the Peace Building), Geneva’s wealth of knowledge and experience is at the GCSP’s doorstep. Being based in the middle of such an ecosystem provides vast opportunities. The GCSP leverages Geneva’s assets in all its activities. Prominent guests frequently speak to course and event participants, and the GCSP facilitates meetings with international organizations. The city also provides countless networking opportunities, both within the GCSP and outside it.
If you had to describe the GCSP’s mission in one sentence, what would it be?
AD: “Transforming the world one class at a time”
In a world like ours, where peace and security are constantly challenged, there has to be change in the way organizations operate and make decisions. The GCSP helps decision-makers to update their knowledge base, hone their skills and reinvent themselves so they can make change happen. In 2015, we ran more than 40 executive courses, with 829 participants from 125 countries and 400+ expert speakers. We develop global leaders from a variety of professional backgrounds and geographical origins, promoting intellectual and cultural diversity, to encourage the exchange of different views and perspectives. The GCSP is also proud to be one of Geneva’s so-called “Gender Champions.”
Why is that? What did you do to become a Gender Champion?
AD: Geneva Gender Champions, a leadership network, connects institutions and individuals in a new constellation enabling a deeper level of engagement to reflect a modern world where gender equality and diversity are the norm. The network allows for more critical thinking on how to bolster gender equality, leverage institutional knowledge and facilitate a necessary exchange of experiences that will enrich managerial and programmatic activities of all involved. For instance, we are committed to ensuring gender inclusiveness in all our panels.
What event brought you here to Washington, D.C.?
AD: In cooperation with the Embassy of Switzerland, the GCSP organized a panel discussion event on “Preventing Violent Extremism: Issues and Challenges.” This is a very relevant and complex topic, exactly in the focus of the GCSP. We are happy to be able to provide a very interesting panel with the GCSP’s Deputy Director Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, the GCSP’s Associate Fellow and former Unit Chief within the Swiss Federal Office of Police, Jean-Paul Rouiller, and Shannon Green, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), who gave their insights.
The visit also gives us the opportunity to catch up with our alumni and contacts, as well as to pay visits to institutions such as the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), with which we are developing two new online courses.
Why is coming to and collaborating with the United States crucial to the GCSP’s work and success?
AD: The GCSP is an international foundation created 20 years ago on the initiative of the Swiss Confederation. The GCSP is governed by its foundation council, which consists of representatives of 49 member states. The United States joined the foundation in 1996, only one year after it was founded and since then the United States has made important contributions to the centre’s work. We regularly welcome participants from the U.S. in our executive programs. During our 8-month Leadership in International Security Course (LISC), for example, participants are given the opportunity to enhance their individual leadership skills and knowledge of organizational leadership in order to achieve a commonly accepted understanding of societal leadership skills that can enhance peace and security. In the last few years, the U.S. government has sent lieutenant colonels from the United States Air Force to participate in the LISC. The GCSP also frequently collaborates with U.S. institutions and organizations to foster dialogue and exchange on strategically relevant topics.
What is the Embassy of Switzerland’s contribution to it?
AD: What was to become the GCSP had its roots in a training program designed on the initiative of the Swiss Confederation to strengthen national expertise in the field of disarmament during the Cold War. It quickly turned out that there was a pressing need for comprehensive security training, not only in Switzerland, but also in many other European countries—and beyond. It was therefore only logical in 1995 to create a foundation on the initiative of the Swiss government, with the support and guidance of an international Foundation Council. With Switzerland’s participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) a year later—an initiative led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to enhance transatlantic security cooperation—and its affiliation with the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, in 1997 the groundwork was laid for the GCSP to become a valuable contribution of Swiss foreign and security policy. Swiss embassies worldwide are therefore helping the GCSP to achieve its mandate to promote peace, security and international cooperation.
Where do you see the main challenges for today’s society?
AD: We live in a highly interconnected world marked by ongoing far-reaching transformations—changes that are occurring both gradually and abruptly, on different levels and in multiple spheres. Today’s security challenges are manifold with intricate, interwoven and interdependent patterns.
Dealing with ambiguities and dilemmas, learning from failures, managing complexity in international security policy—all these challenges require critical thinking, imagination, innovative problem-solving skills, and a solid knowledge of today’s multilayered security environment. Therefore the GCSP’s course directors and teaching staff attach great importance not only to enhancing participants’ understanding of a fast-moving world, but also to fostering their interpersonal abilities and skills necessary to untangle complexity and to create a sustainable impact on decision-making in their respective organizations and countries.