Challenges facing society – University of Copenhagen

International Conflicts

Challenges facing society

International conflicts have a huge impact on the World’s growth and prosperity, and the possibilities of succeeding in creating stable and peaceful cooperation. Whereas conflicts during the first 45 years following the Second World War took place primarily in the context of the Cold War between the US and the USSR, the conflicts of recent years have been tied to many different sets of problems. These problems can pertain to things like the challenge to the value and security policies of the US and its Western allies (Iraq being an example), the collapse of existing authoritarian regimes (for instance Libya and Syria), and the superpowers’ staking claims in territories of interest (the Ukraine and Georgia being examples for Russia and the South China Sea for China). Conflicts within states have come to make up an increasing part of the World’s conflicts over the past decades, and the international community’s commitment in the conflicts has also been increasing. This means that both the UN and an defence alliance like NATO, just as the EU and the formation of interim coalitions have become increasingly important.

The conflicts unfold in a context of global change. It is debatable if this should be interpreted as a change to the existing order, of if it is more a change of the existing order. Furthermore it is discussed what the nature of such changes would be. Are we moving from a world order dominated by one superpower, the US, to a world order with two superpowers (the US and China), or are we facing a more fundamental change towards a future where it will make less sense to focus on the interest and values of different superpowers since both other states and other public and private stakeholders will have an increasing influence on international security? Technological progress and climate change are changing geo-politics and the race for access to natural resources and bring new attention to areas like the Arctic.

This means opportunities and challenges to Denmark. The diplomatic and military activism of Danish policies opens up an opportunity for influences, but it also challenges the balance and the considerations that must be upheld vis-à-vis American and European partners in Denmark’s policies concerning values and security. The Danish opt-out from the EU defence policy, the close collaboration with the World’s leading military power, the US, and the relation to the other Nordic countries all factor into how these challenges are handled. Likewise, the conclusions drawn by the decision makers - when evaluating the military efforts of the past 20 years - will have a great impact on Denmark’s approach to international conflicts and global change in the coming years.