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Global Security in a Year of Elections

June 9 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

FREE but booking required - see entry for details
  • Date and time:Sunday 9 June 2024, 11am to 12.30pm
  • Location:In-person only
    Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York (Map)
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Admission:Free admission, booking required

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Event details

Two years on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the war remains a key issue of global politics. With Biden as President in the US, support from this global power is a given – although signs of resistance within Congress are starting to show.

But what would the re-election of Trump mean for Putin’s invasion? What would NATO’s future be? Even in the event of a Biden victory, what will the future bring?

At an event chaired by journalist Gavin Esler, our panel of speakers includes Helene von Bismarck and Tracey German of King’s College, London and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI); Steven Pifer, a retired US Foreign Service officer with more than 25 years with the State Department; and Mark Laity, an expert on strategic communications and security, and one of the leaders in its development within NATO.

This event is part of the Festival Focus ‘2024: A new world order?’ presented in collaboration with the Morrell Centre for Legal and Political Philosophy. You may also be interested in ‘The Rise of the Global South’ and ‘Are Elections Safe and Do They Even Matter?’ which are taking place the same day.

About the speakers

Gavin Esler is a journalist, television presenter and author. He was a main presenter of the BBC current affairs show Newsnight for 12 years until 2014. Since 2014 he has been a public speaker, a political commentator and journalist, and the Chancellor of the University of Kent.

Tracey German is a Professor of Conflict and Security in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London and a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) – the world’s oldest, and the UK’s leading, defence and security think tank. Her research focuses on Russian foreign and security policies, particularly Russia’s use of force, and how its neighbours have responded, as well as Russian strategic culture and military thought.

Mark Laity is a widely respected expert on strategic communications and security, and one of the leaders in its development within NATO. He has been involved with the media, information and strategic communication for more than four decades, both as a journalist, mostly with the BBC, and then in a variety of senior posts in NATO. He is now Senior Director of the StratCom Academy the company he set-up on his retirement in December 2020 as Director of the Communications Division at SHAPE. Previously, from 2007 until 2017 he was the Chief Strategic Communications (StratCom) at SHAPE, the first holder of the post, created in response to the growing importance of information campaigns in military operations. In his various jobs he has played an influential role in developing StratCom as a key element within today’s changing security environment.

His StratCom post followed nine months in Afghanistan in 2006-7 as the NATO Spokesman in Kabul and Media Adviser to the ISAF Commander, the first of three ISAF tours. For his service he was awarded NATO’s Meritorious Service Medal. He joined NATO as Special Adviser to the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, and also the Alliance’s Deputy Spokesman. This followed 22 years in journalism, mostly in the BBC. This included, from 1989, 11 years as the BBC’s Defence Correspondent where he reported from the frontlines of most major conflicts of the nineties. He has BA(Hons) & MA degrees from the University of York, UK. He is an Associate Fellow at the King’s Centre for Strategic Communications, Kings College London, Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University’s Defence & Security Department, and Honorary Fellow at the British Army’s Centre for Army Leadership. In 2020, the University of York in recognition of his work in journalism and StratCom, awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Steven Pifer is affiliated with Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Brookings Institution. A retired US Foreign Service officer, his more than 25 years with the State Department included assignments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibilities for Russia and Ukraine, Ambassador to Ukraine, and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the National Security Council. He also served at the US embassies in Warsaw, Moscow and London as well as with the US delegation to the negotiation on intermediate-range nuclear forces in Geneva.

Dr Helene von Bismarck has a PhD in modern history from Humboldt-University. Her first bookConceptions of Informal Empire. British Policy in the Persian Gulf, 1961-68, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and from 2015 to 2022, served on the board of directors of the British Scholar Society, an international organisation of historians dedicated to foster the intellectual exchange about Britain’s interactions with the wider world. In 2021, Helene became a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for British Politics and Government at King’s College London. In the same year, she joined the European Security Advisory Group at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). In November 2023, she was appointed a Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI. Helene‘s analysis of UK and German foreign policy, populism, Brexit, and the role of history in international affairs, has been widely published by U.K.  and German media (BBC World Service, The Guardian, The Times Red Box, Chatham House, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).


This event is part of York Festival of Ideas – for the full programme see https://yorkfestivalofideas.com/2024/calendar/


June 9
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
FREE but booking required - see entry for details


In-person only Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York
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