At the 20th Liechtenstein Colloquium on International Security, I contributed a talk on the new complexity of self-determination in the 21st century, arguing that there is a novel quality of complexity that shapes the environment today in which self-determination claims are negotiated, and this is likely to increase further in the future.

What is novel about this, however, is less that we are confronted with entirely new phenomena, but rather that

  • there are many more facets to this complexity that occur simultaneously;
  • these facets are linked in different ways, creating a greater, but contextually variable level of interdependence between different actors and their agendas;
  • we should refrain from generalising about trends and patterns of how this new complexity plays out in different self-determination conflicts, but rather rely on case-by-case analysis in order to draw conclusions about how to manage and settle different claims: prioritise attainable goals and mobilise the necessary resources to do so; and
  • if there is a new complexity, we should not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by it or take short cuts to understanding it but rather think about how it can be factored into our (grand) strategic thinking.