Welcome to the 2015 Conflict, Security and Development Conference

In the year 2015, it now seems difficult to look back and imagine the world at the turn of the Millennium. Designated as the International Year for the Culture of Peace by the UN, Y2K cumulated in the Millennium Summit, in New York City on September 6-8th, setting out eight distinct ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG’s.) While the goals were clearly optimistic, the Millennium brought an excitement, especially in the UN, that liberal ideas and development could drastically improve the lives of millions around the world. With the Cold War ended and the UN making significant progress towards the end of the Yugoslav wars, there was much to be optimistic about.

With the MDG’s set to expire this year, much of the former optimism seems to have diminished. The year 2014 alone has clearly been a dispiriting year for International Security and Development. Cases such as Syria, Iraq and Gaza in the Middle East underline how fragility and conflict have devastated all forms of progress, from government reform and economic growth to fighting poverty and improving healthcare and education.  In Africa, the South Sudan crisis has worsened once more, Ebola is still ravaging West Africa and Islamic terrorism, notably in the form of Boko Haram in Nigeria, was significantly worsened. Furthermore, natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan caused mass destruction in the Philippines, drug wars in Central and Latin America continue to rage, and the lasting fallout of wars in Libya, Mali, Yemen and Somalia continues to hamper development.  The ongoing crisis in Ukraine threatens a return of conflict to the European continent.

It is through this chaos that the UN has tried to persevere with the MDG’s, although they admit that in 2014 ‘a combination of conflict, disease, natural disasters and environmental crises all threatened decades of development gains worldwide.’¹ While some of these threats are new, the core issues and challenges to development these cause are not. It has been clear since the turn of the Millennium, that progress towards the achievement of the MDG goals has been slowest in fragile and conflict affected states,. Fragile or conflict-affected countries have yet to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal and generally lag 40-50% behind other low and middle-income countries in MDG achievement.² With the MDGs set to expire this year, future development policy at local, national and international levels must address the various security challenges that impede human, political and economic development in conflict zones. This year’s Conflict, Security and Development conference aims to discuss these challenges and possible ways of tackling them.

‘Post-2015 Development Challenges in Conflict Zones,’ is the second student-led conference of the Conflict, Security and Development master’s programme at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. After our successful inaugural conference last year, Transnational Organised Crime in Conflict Zones, we hope that this event will become a permanent fixture on the Department’s calendar. Student engagement this year has been extremely positive, with over 20 master’s students on the organising committee helping to ensure that the conference will be a great success. Please stay tuned on our Facebook page and website https://csd2015.wordpress.com/ for any news.

For further information about our panels and speakers please follow this link to our website. https://csd2015.wordpress.com/speakers/

We hope to see you at this year’s conference.

Richard Blunt

¹ https://undp.exposure.co/a-glimpse-around-the-world#view:nc1tkf3qq04l5wmi9h2irkhzyr5dn29207b0

² http://www.pbsbdialogue.org/documentupload/46006119.pdf

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