Building on the scope of HMG policy planning and on our previous ‘Futures’ conferences, this high level meeting assisted senior officials to understand international perspectives on conflict and consider future trends, challenges and opportunities over the next 15-20 years.
- Deaths from conflict have been declining on a continuous trend, reducing by 90% since the 1950s. This trend should continue given economic growth, globalisation, democratisation, and better international conflict management cooperation. However, many fragile states in danger of conflict have institutional deficits with a mismatch between state capacity and the scale of complex challenges faced. These often include structural unemployment.
- Democracy is not a Western export and is widely valued. All democracies are finding that power is being diffused to an ever greater multiplicity of actors and current democratic systems do not make it easy to agree and implement long term policies.
- Power transitions create perilous moments in history. Future risks include: potential great power rivalry; proliferation of weapons and components; low-cost wars; failure of international governance to adapt to new powers; ageing populations and youth bulges; and resource competition/market volatility.
- Conflict is likely to move into new frontiers, including cyber, space and robotics, particularly as the cost of traditional war makes other options more attractive. Links between terrorist and criminal networks are also becoming more common.