I have participated in National Security Council meetings in the past three administrations on issues ranging from efforts to counter ISIL and prevent homeland attacks to the response to Russia’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. Across the years, I’ve participated and watched as senior policymakers from across the political spectrum have struggled to formulate policy responses in the face of a familiar set of challenges, including incomplete information, perceived and real time constraints, resource limitations, competing priorities, bureaucratic impediments, and intense public and legislative scrutiny.
Central Europe received a major increase in refugees fleeing Syria in 2015. With the region’s politicians initially overwhelmed and claiming the situation was unforeseeable, civil society had to step into the breach on humanitarian assistance. Eventually, politicians did propose a broad range of solutions to cope with the phenomenon, typically informed by their political persuasions. Naturally, these were widely debated, and none were able to be categorically proven as effective.
But what if there was a way to evaluate the proposed solutions? What if the means existed to analyze the challenges faced and provide support for decision-makers? Existing computer simulation models are, in fact, quite capable of doing just that in a range of fields. Though their capabilities are not taken full advantage of at present, the situation appears to be changing.
One field—and a big one at that—starting to adopt large-scale computer modeling is healthcare. With many national health insurance programs facing the challenges of demographic shifts (an aging population and fewer contributors to the pool of available funds), the quest for cost efficiency has opened the door to healthcare technology assessment (HTA).
The United Nations was created to foster peace and stability among nations and promote economic prosperity and social justice for all. Seventy years later, there is a shared sense that the global structures entrusted with peace and security are not keeping pace with today’s more complex and interconnected world, where local problems have global dimensions and where the monopoly of violence is no longer the sole preserve of states—a world where the nature of peace and conflict is challenging the analytical frameworks, norms, and paradigms that have been painstakingly fashioned over the past two decades.
The three major peace and security reviews conducted in 2015 have taken stock of the changing global environment; analyzed UN responses; and come up with several key policy messages, as well as a number of complementary recommendations which, if implemented, could help the UN peace and security architecture be better fit for purpose.