The Seven Driving Forces of International Security

In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the International Security Outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The first part of this second section of the report showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Africa, and drug cartels in Latin America

The second part of this section of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.

The next section deals with the seven driving forces of international security:

  1. Technological innovation
  2. Natural resources, climate management and security
  3. Efficient governance
  4. Geo-strategic competition
  5. Demographic shifts
  6. Social cohesion and trust
  7. Hybrid and asymmetric threats

The report goes into depths in only two of these areas, the first two listed.   I will blog next on what the report has to say in these areas, and see if I can come up with research on the remaining five after that …


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