- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict, peace and security
- Peace and development
I. The erosion of state legitimacy
II. Security governance
III. Dynamics of peace and conflict
A common thread in 2014 was an underlying concern about the capacity of states to manage a mounting set of often interconnected problems.
With state collapse in Iraq, Libya and Syria, external actors now appear more reluctant to assume responsibility for the internal security of other states, or uncertain about which kinds of intervention can play a constructive role. Looking forward, identifying fragile states could be an essential element in understanding where future threats lie and preparing appropriate kinds of intervention. Conversely, identifying the elements that make states resilient could be an important contribution to reducing the risk of state failure.
In Europe—where there was a serious breakdown in security both regionally and within several states during 2014—the role of the state as a security provider is also being reassessed. Despite the dense web of legal conventions, political agreements, institutions of different kinds and other security instruments in place, political crisis escalated into major conflict in Ukraine in the space of only a few months. Whether Europe is returning to a concept of security based on traditional forms of power politics has become a legitimate and widespread question.
Another subject for reflection in 2014 was the extent to which multilateralism as an approach to security governance is in decline. On some measures the United Nations Security Council was more active than it has ever been and could be seen to be evolving and adapting into a more open system. However, in terms of providing an effective and timely response to threats to international peace and security, the picture was mixed. Its impact on the conflicts in Israel–Palestine, Syria and Ukraine was marginal, although there was a more positive record of agreed responses to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa and the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters.
SIPRI Yearbook 2015 tends to reinforce the tentative conclusion presented in the 2014 edition—that the positive trend towards less violence and more effective conflict management witnessed over the past decade has been broken.