Category Archives: The State of the World

Trump and the summits: disruptor or destructor?

As we wait for the summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to unfold on Sentosa Island in Singapore, everyone is in waiting mode and there are few takers for the challenge of forecasting the outcome. There is a widespread sense of a precarious balance between the epoch-shaping risks and opportunities available, uncertainty about what two unpredictable leaders would achieve together or, indeed, wreck. The uncertainty was only deepened by the US President’s rejection of the agreed communiqué at the G7 summit in a Quebec village three days earlier.

Continue reading

2017: looking back

2017: it’s been some year, eh? It was the first year of the Trump presidency. All UN members bar one were signed up to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was open for signature and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize. North Korea carried out more missile tests and one nuclear test and moved closer to having a nuclear ICBM capable of hitting targets in the continental US. The Iran nuclear deal came under severe pressure despite Iran implementing it fully. The people of Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya continued to suffer the ravages of violent conflict. Elsewhere in the region and outside it, people faced the threat of random terrorist attacks. Arms spending and arms trading continued to rise. In SIPRI’s Peace Points series of short films, I set out some views on these events and trends as they unfolded.

Best wishes for a peaceful 2018!

The nuclear triptych of 2017

Nuclear weapons have come into the political limelight in 2017 as they have hardly done since the 1980s. North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons create a triptych – one panel for arming up and nuclear confrontation, one for arms control, and one for complete nuclear disarmament. Which way is the world headed? Continue reading

Planetary Boundaries and the risks we run as we cross them

The Stockholm Resilience Centre has produced a new study of the planetary boundaries, a concept it first unleashed on the planet in 2009. It reveals a worsening situation. It has received considerable media attention as an issue of  environmental impact. But it is much more than that.  Continue reading

The conflict horizon 2: Rising pressures

Over the past two decades the world has become more peaceful. Today, rising pressures are generating increased conflict risk. We have learned a lot. Now, can we take advantage of that? Because we will need to. Continue reading

The conflict horizon 1: Untold good news

Peace is the big, under-reported good news story of the 20-plus years since the Cold War ended. There are fewer wars than in the 1980s. There have been more peace agreements, and an increasing proportion of them endure for longer.

Good. Because the next 20 years will make the last 20 seem like a rehearsal for the real thing. Continue reading

Positive News about the State of the World in 2013

Anybody can be forgiven for feeling these are gloomy times. National economies are largely sluggish, abysmal at worst. Political leaders can’t fix a range of problems from the Euro to carbon emissions. From Mali via Syria to the Korean peninsula, peace in the world seems at risk. So it’s important to find the positive news. Continue reading