Book Talk - Syria: The Tragedy of a Pivotal State

Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar
Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Ambassador Abhyankar will speak about themes from his recently published book. The book focuses, through multiple levels of international reality, on the pervasive and widespread effect of the Syrian civil war on the unravelling of established norms – both global or national – which have determined international relations during the last seven decades. It postulates that since 2011, the Syrian situation has catalysed the breakdown of the international system based on the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The core international values fostered by that system now laid waste, among others, are sovereignty, non-interference, sanctity of UN Security Council approval for waging war, human rights, protection of civilian populations, and the right of people to choose their own governments/leaders. By making the UNSC powerless in providing humanitarian assistance or fostering cease-fire and peace-making it has called into question the principles which have been held immutable for seventy years. More importantly, these norms have been breached by their originators.

The book takes a wider perspective melding together the civil war’s international, regional and national consequences to understand how and why this one event has radiated profound consequences for the international system.

Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar is Chairman, Kunzru Centre for Defence Studies and Research, Pune. He was from August 2012 till December 2019 Professor of Practice, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. Earlier, (2005-2008) he was Professor & Director, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He was also India Director, The Asia Foundation, San Francisco from 2005 to 2011.

He retired in 2005, after 37 years, from the Indian Foreign Service having served as Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and as India’s Ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg, Turkey, Syria, Azerbaijan and High Commissioner to Cyprus, Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and Consul General of India, San Francisco. Since retirement, he has written three books on Indian foreign policy and edited three others. He has also written a novel The Crossing set in Sri Lanka. His latest book Syria: The Tragedy of a Pivotal State was published in November 2020 by Palgrave MacMillan/Springer.

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