Disarmament Insight


Friday, 13 July 2007

New podcast: What do we know about levels of human violence?

Early this year we set up the Disarmament Insight initiative with support from our funders, the governments of Norway and the Netherlands, to help multilateral practitioners think differently about human security, disarmament and arms control.

On 25 May, as part of that work, we held a symposium near Geneva with a group of disarmament practitioners including diplomats, international civil servants, representatives of civil society groups and researchers on 'Human security, human nature and trust-building in negotiations'.

Among our speakers was Frans de Waal, one of the world's foremost authorities on ape behaviour. On the face of it, this might seem a bit odd. What could primatology offer disarmament negotiators? Quite a lot, as it turns out, and you can download Professor de Waal's talk as a podcast by clicking on this link. It has blown a lot of minds here in Geneva and elsewhere, judging from the feedback we've been getting from diplomats and others.

We're now pleased to announce a further way to blow your mind - a free podcast from another of our speakers from that symposium, Professor Paul Seabright, economist and author of The Company of Strangers: a Natural History of Economic Life. You can download or listen to this podcast online by clicking here.

Specifically, Professor Seabright's talk investigated "how have human beings tamed our warring instincts?". In this first podcast of two encapsulating his talk, Professor Seabright builds on the insight that, at a time when there's mounting concern about violence in modern society, rates of violent death are very much lower now than they were in the past, which he notes may come as a surprise to many.

In this 30 minute part 1 podcast, "Warring Instincts: What doe we know about levels of violence", we've included the slides from Professor Seabright's talk to aid the listener. These are viewable on iTunes or in Quicktime Player in sync with the audio.

In a couple of weeks, we'll be sure to post part 2 of Professor Seabright's talk, in which he explores what perspectives from behavioural economics and neuroscience can tell us in understanding armed violence.


John Borrie