Greetings and welcome to my blog. This is a place for discussing international events, trends and policies, airing and exploring ideas for how to understand key issues and what to do about them.

This evolving blog

As I have been writing the blog over a bit more than a decade by now, its focus has evolved. I began with four inter-related themes: climate change, conflict and peace, the economic crunch of 2008-9, and power. As the years have gone by, and perhaps because the climate crisis has deepened and the world’s peace-and-conflict balance has deteriorated, I have concentrated increasingly on the first two topics. Perhaps also, taking up my post  Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in September 2015 encouraged me to be a bit more focused than before. 

Moving to SIPRI re-engaged me after a break of two-and-a half decades in questions of nuclear weapons and doctrine, disarmament and arms control, and other aspects of what are often called hard security issues – the ones that involves tanks, missile, combat aircraft and warships as well as people. It also brought home to me the importance of understanding the effect of new technologies on security thinking and, vice versa, the effect of security thinking on technological development; this is the world of cyber insecurity, AI and machine learning, satellites and 3D printing. I picked these up, alongside issues I was by then more familiar with, that focus on what are often called the human security issues. Examples of these are the impact of climate change and environmental crisis, the costs of social inequality, and more broadly the relationship between peace and development.

More recently I have started to think the human security / hard security dichotomy can be a bit misleading. In liberal political theory, the responsible state should use hard security means to protect the human security of its citizens, so there is less to the distinction than meets the eye. There is just one security space and when we make that human / hard divide, maybe we miss that today’s human security problems are tomorrow’s hard security issues and humanitarian disasters.

Taking that line of thought further, the crisis in the environment is so multi-dimensional, so deep, and produces so many challenges to human security and to social and political stability, that I have started to think that within a single security space there are three sets of demanding challenges:

  • Insecurity arising from political threats, rivalries and clashing ambitions, primarily to be addressed by diplomacy and hard security preparations;
  • Insecurity arising from social conditions such as inequality, poverty, arbitrary use of power, criminality, primarily to be addressed by development and peace building;
  • Insecurity arising from deterioration in the ecosphere (climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution of land, water and air), primarily to be addressed long-term change in the economic model and, in the short-term, by building resilience so society adapts to the pressures.

They are more inter-connected than a list makes them sound. A better form of presentation would be a Venn diagram.

Throughout, I have wanted to respect the complexity of the problems, while dealing with them in language and with arguments that are as clear as I can make them, and to keep my arguments as close to known facts as possible. This means I often take a bit of time before leaping out with opinions and positions so I’m sometimes not as immediately topical as I’d otherwise like to be. And I’m afraid it also means that my blog posts are often quite long. If you’re used to snappy tweeting, my posts that come through at between one and three thousand words a time may be something of a change of pace. I hope you might even enjoy that; I feel there’s too much instant comment and too little reflection on a lot of the troubling things in today’s world so I like to lean a bit in the opposite direction. But I do also do a fair amount of shorter blog posts, often built around a short film of me sounding off.

As for me, a bit of background in case you are interested:-


I am Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Before that, from December 2003 until August 2015 I was Secretary General of International Alert, the London-based international peacebuilding organisation. And from 2013 till 2017 I was also a part-time Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manchester, where I was affiliated with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.

Before International Alert, I was Director of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) from 1993 to 2001. I have written books, articles and reports about conflict, peace, security and international politics for 40-plus years and I have worked with divided communities so they could try to enhance their prospects for peaceful relations. I was a member of the UN Peacebuilding Fund‘s Advisory Group from 2007 through 2011, and chair of it in 2010 and 2011.

If you really, really want to know more, PRIO has been interviewing folk from its past and present; my successor as Director, Stein Tønnesson, did a humungous interview of me, which they have now posted online.


I am British, a Londoner by nature and, these days, living in the most London-like part of Stockholm I could find (that’s to say, Södermalm – and what a great area it is). I am of the baby boom generation and, like a reported three-quarters of boomers, I fondly think I look younger than the rest of that generation. You be the judge:

Dan Smith (1)

In July 2009 I started out on what a friend called Fatherhood v2.0.It’s one reason why there are intermittent silences on this blog (my verbosity is another – if I were to write shorter blogs, I’d probably write more of them) (and actually my day job takes a fair bit of time and energy). In addition, in August 2014 I became a grandfather. And then in February 2015 I became a grandfather again (if you see what I mean) and again in July 2016.

So: sorry about the blog but from time to time (like most of the time) there is a bigger priority.

And by the way, thanks for asking: while grappling with the realities of parenthood with dodgy knees, and despite my uncertainties, speaking as a  septuagenarian father of a teenager, I am still loving Fatherhood v2.0.


The picture at the top of the page is of the main reading room in the Library of Alexandria. Here’s another.

Alexandria Library, main reading room

Alexandria Library, main reading room

It’s the modern one, obviously, not the ancient one that was founded about 283 BCE and whose destruction remains an unsolved mystery.  The building is beautiful and the institution and the way it is run reflect an inclusive, reflective idea about education, learning and civilisation. The more I learned about Egypt under Mubarak, the more extraordinary it seems to me that the library could be founded and run in the way that it was. In the events that overthrew Mubarak in February 2011, the Library emerged unscathed.

In whatever future unfolds for Egypt now, the survival of the Library of Alexandria may be a useful litmus test of freedoms and values in the country.

Visit it if ever you have an opportunity – it really is wonderful.

(Updated January 2023)

26 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Dan,

    Long time, no see. Congratulations on fatherhood revisited. Us older dads have much to offer, I like to think. My eight-year-old son, Conrad, is pure pleasure, and keeps me busy.

    I’ll keep in mind the Library at Alexandria.


    Tony Simpson
    Betrand Russell Peace Foundation

  2. I am getting touch with you on behalf of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) to let you know that this year’s Global Peace Index (GPI) will be launched on June 12th. Having covered the GPI previously, we thought you might be interested in receiving this year’s ranking.

    We will be in touch closer to the launch with GPI results, interactive maps, videos and charts; however if you have any question or would like to speak to someone from the IEP about the GPI, feel free to get in touch before then.

    If, for whatever reason, you are not interested in this year’s GPI and do not wish to be contacted on the subject do please let us know and we will remove you from our contact list.


  3. Dan, glad to see that you are active….still having a good memories of the lectures you delievered at Nansen School in 1995; I recently published a book on Izetbegovic, a bilingual one, and it partly deals with an innovative addition of my own to the theory of the causes of war, If you would like to read it, I will be happy to e-mail to you an e-version. Best regards. Drazen

  4. Dear Dan, thanks for this excellent piece. I would be interested in exploring further with IA the proposed work on expanding our understanding of violent conflict. Regards
    Ozonnia Ojielo
    Coordinator, Conflict Prevention and Recovery, BCPR
    UNDP, NY.

  5. Dear Dan,
    To ditto Ilonka, your work is inspiring.
    I (along with a group of young writers) are looking for some great minds to help launch our new website discussing various global issues. I wondered if you had any work that you would like to share with our readers, or perhaps a copy of your fantastic article ‘Natural Resources in a Conflict Context’?
    It would be great if your writing was shared further, and great for us to have some work written by more experienced writers such as yourself.
    Kind regards
    Tom Beacham
    Global Issuers

  6. Pingback: BibSonomy :: url :: About the author | Dan Smith's blog

  7. Dear Dan,

    To echo another writer, even longer time no see. I was, oddly, walking past Christ’s with Charlie Hodges on Saturday night, who you may or may not remember at Tiffin (he would also have been at Jesus when you were around), on my way to a Tiffin ‘dinner’ at Emanuel – it was mostly an excuse to catch up with Charlie and otherwise an opportunity to meet some people I don’t know now and wouldn’t have wanted to know forty-five, getting on for fifty, years ago… Anyway, this is to say hello. The last time I saw you was very briefly at the Oxford Union in 1973ish. I am intrigued you are living in Stockholm. My wife’s mother was Swedish and I know the city quite well. I now live in Ireland, and have done for the last twenty years. Like you I am a father of a certain age, for a variety of reasons, and being hopefully kept young by two children of now ten and twelve. Anyway, the short version of this is only that Charlie and I were thinking about you on Saturday and I thought I would put your name into a search… Good to see you again…!

  8. Dan, I hope you don’t mind me using your blog to say Hello to Michael. I shall be seeing a bunch of Old Ts in May on the sad occasion of Tom Matthews funeral — Roger Pellman included. We are still in touch. Michael, if you wish you can contact me on simon.jamieson1@btinternet.com. Dan — if you have M’s address perhaps you could forward mine to him? Best wishes. Simon Jamieson

  9. Hello,

    My name is Erica Badino, I’m a blogger with a focus on financial advice.

    I noticed that you offer guest post opportunities – are you still actively accepting them?

    I’d be honored to submit content for your approval if you are.

    Below are a few topic ideas:

    Topic – “How Fresh Content Can Boost Your Google Rankings”
    Topic – “5 Mistakes Bloggers Make With Online Courses”

    Thanks and let me know your thoughts.

    Erica Badino

  10. Hello,

    I just wanted to reach back out and follow up to see if you received my previous email.

    I’m interested in guest posting on your website and provided a few topics.

    Thanks and please let me know, as I can begin writing the approved topic as soon as I hear back from you.


  11. If you are the author of Philosophy 50 moments, a wonderfully succinct compendium, you will want to note a Freudian slip on page 29, last sentence in section entitled Wisdom of the Oracle. (In my own slip I first typed auricle). The slip is Aristotle.

  12. Hi Mr. Smith, I’ve been using your State of the World atlas since I was a kid in middle school, all the way through high school and multiple Stanford degrees, and when the 9th edition came out I bought copies as gifts for my younger sibling and friends. They are truly incomparable visual resources. I was wondering if a 10th might be on the horizon anytime in the foreseeable future, and if so, would you still be editing them? Thanks!

  13. Dan
    I want to know how many exiled ex rulers currently have sanctuary in Saudi Arabia. ex dictator from Tunisia is one. I’m guessing there are others.Can you help/advise? Regds
    John Gibb

  14. Dear Dan,

    Greetings from Singapore.

    I have truly enjoyed reading all your blogs and following your news. I am organizing a global peace march and peace initiative and I welcome the opportunity to invite all of you to join me. I also would welcome the opportunity to speak to you as I am organizing a global conference and setting up a new World Forum. What would is the best way to contact you, day and time that is good for you?. Thank you. Chaitri Hapugalle, chaihapugalle@gmail.com

  15. Greetings!
    Dear Dr. Dan Smith,

    Please allow me to introduce myself.
    I am Lucy Choi of Yu Ri Jang Literary Agency((or YuRiJang Agency) based in Seoul, Korea.

    I am writing to you to ask the Korean publication rights of your book, as I have one Korean publisher interested in publising this book into Korean. I wonder if the Korean rights of this book is still available and if you are interested in licensing it into Korean. I do hope to submit this book to our client if it is still available.

    It would be much appreciated if you could advise me of the rights status of it to my email(lucy.choi@yrjagency.com), and if available, the review materials would be very helpful.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    With best wishes,

    Lucy Choi
    YuRiJang Literary Agency
    E :lucy.choi@yrjagency.com

  16. It Lucy Choi of Yu Ri Jang Literary Agency agan, I found that I didn’t mention the book name after I posting my previous message. I am interested in your book, <.

    I hope you are well and in good health.
    Thank you and best wishes,

  17. Dan, Just tried to purchase the book from the link you provided (Myriad Editions). You listed the price as £14.99, but the website is charging $34 USD.

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