Global Conflicts: Connecting the Dots

Consider the countries featured in daily news in 2015: Nigeria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, France, Libya, Afghanistan. Stories of poverty, disease, hunger, despotism, hatred, and injustice abound. Conflicts attributable to these global issues and others persist regardless of international efforts to eliminate them.


Globalization and the rapid increase in world population have created new pathways to conflict. A 2009 essay on global conflict by Vikas Shah ( summarized contributing factors to current global conflict:


Economics: From early colonialism to modern capitalism, our western economic growth has often been at the detriment of other nations where, for example, we have aggressively acquired assets, created trade routes, or leveraged economic scale to source products, assets, and services artificially cheaply. These processes, while creating great wealth and development in Europe and the USA, have exacerbated poverty and economic inequality in many nations, creating a great deal of tension and potential for conflict.

Agriculture and Energy: Our world is hugely dependent on agriculture and energy. Both of these asset classes are in huge demand, with their protection and development becoming serious debate. Population and economic growth also puts huge strains on these assets, as our world comes close to consuming greater than is sustainable.

Technology: While technology has been a huge enabler for global development, it has also made our injustices and inequalities more visible to external and internal participants in any situation.

Climate Change: This is now becoming a real and significant issue with millions worldwide becoming displaced by climatic effects.

Religion, Governance, and Politics: These issues, and their allied topics of human rights, justice, and so forth have historically caused many of the world’s most significant conflicts, and continue to do so as often these issues are the most fundamental in the structure of a society.


In a later blogpost from Vikas Shah, he relates thoughts on war and peace from three Nobel Peace Prize recipients ( From Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland: “If you have enormous inequality, it easily creates conditions where violence is the only way out.” From Jody Williams, founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines: “…to dis-incentivise people from going to war…Make sure their stomachs are full! Make sure they have a decent education! Make sure they have a decent job that gives them some sense of dignity, and which allows them to provide for their families! Make sure people have hope for a better future!”


The complexity of the interrelationships necessitates addressing multiple issues simultaneously. Close coordination among the United Nations, national and local governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is the only formula for success, and leadership does not have a particularly good track record in this regard. The need for a big-picture, long-term agenda has not been a priority of decision-makers.

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