UK Carrier strike group

Lancaster Defence and Security Dialogue

The Lancaster Defence and Security Dialogue (LDSD) is a unique occasion for discussion and debate among academics, public intellectuals, policymakers and members of the public on how the UK, as a European yet globally ambitious power, can navigate – especially at the defence level – the complex realities and risks of an increasingly interdependent world paradoxically marked by increasing geopolitical rivalry and divisions.

The Lancaster Defence and Security Dialogue

The inaugural LDSD, on 6th December 2023 in Lancaster, included a public roundtable discussion. Organised around the themes of interdependence and rivalry, it explored how Britain - as a European yet globally ambitious power - can position itself in relation to the Sino-US rivalry and in the Indo-Pacific.

The UK and Europe in the Age of China-US Rivalry

China’s rise and the return of great power rivalry have generated a bewildering array of questions for the UK and Europe. Realities of economic, environmental, and societal interdependence coexist uneasily with the exigencies of expanding strategic competition, presenting the UK, the European Union (EU) and its member states with new and difficult defence and security policy choices.

The UK faces distinct challenges in how to position itself between the changing US-led defence and security architecture in Asia and the emerging European, French, and German China policies. Meanwhile, as the EU seeks to become a strategic player, not only at the political and economic, but also at the defence and security policy levels, fault lines have emerged over issues of technology, alliances, economics, diplomacy, and notably defence, particularly on matters related to China.

LDSD Panellists

The roundtable featured a discussion chaired by Rt Hon. Alistair Burt, Pro-Chancellor of Lancaster University, who served within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa from 2010-13 and 2017-19.

Rt Hon Alistair Burt

Rt Hon. Alistair Burt

Rt Hon. Alistair Burt was appointed Pro-Chancellor of Lancaster University in October 2020. A law graduate, he qualified as a solicitor, before entering Parliament as MP for Bury North (1983-97). He served as MP for NE Bedfordshire (2001-19) and retired from the Commons in December 2019. He served in six ministerial posts from 1992-2019, including Minister for People with Disabilities, Minister of State for Health and Social Care, and Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa. He is now the UK Commissioner on the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP), a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a Council Member of the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR), and on the Advisory Council of Chatham House. He chairs the Dept of Health and Social Care Global Workforce Advisory Committee. He remains associated with a number of charities and local organisations in Bedfordshire and social enterprises engaged in the Middle East.

Rt Hon Alistair Burt

Hugo Meijer

Hugo Meijer is CNRS Research Fellow at Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI) and the founding Director of the European Initiative for Security Studies (EISS), the largest and most diverse network of Security Studies scholars in Europe. He is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS), in Brussels, and an Honorary Researcher at the Centre for War and Diplomacy, Lancaster University.

Previously, he was Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence), Lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London and a Researcher at the Institute for Strategic Research (IRSEM, Paris). He was also a Senior Common Room Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, and a visiting scholar at the Sigur Centre for Asian Studies at George Washington University.

Rt Hon Alistair Burt

Avinash Paliwal

Avinash Paliwal is Reader in International Relations at SOAS. Previous to this, he was Deputy Director of the SOAS South Asia Institute, taught defence studies at King’s College London, and was the Defence Academy Postdoctoral Fellow also at King’s.

He specialises in the international relations of South Asia. His first book, My Enemy’s Enemy – India in Afghanistan from the Soviet Intervention to the US Withdrawal was published by Hurst and Oxford University Press (2017). It details India’s role in Afghanistan during and after the Cold War. His forthcoming book, India’s near East – A New History (Hurst 2024) unpacks India’s faltering attempts to exert control over its eastern hinterland and the neighbouring states of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Avinash holds an MA and PhD in International Relations from King’s College London and a BA (Hons) in Economic History from the University of Delhi. Formerly a Visiting Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, he briefly worked as a foreign affairs journalist before entering academia.

Rt Hon Alistair Burt

Simona Soare

Dr Simona Soare is Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Technology at Lancaster University. Prior to joining Lancaster University, Simona was research fellow for defence and military analysis with IISS, Senior Associate Analyst for transatlantic defence and EU-NATO cooperation with the EUISS, Senior Security and Defence Advisor to the Vice-President of the European Parliament and Defence Analyst with the Ministry of Defence.

Simona specializes in defence innovation and emerging technologies, software-defined defence, digital transformation of defence, and future of war.

She holds a PhD in International Security (2011), and she is a US Department of State Fellow and a Denton Fellow.

Rt Hon Alistair Burt

Cindy Yu

Cindy Yu is Assistant Editor at The Spectator where she also hosts the magazine’s Chinese Whispers podcast and writes on Chinese politics and society, China’s foreign relations, as well as the lives of Chinese diaspora overseas.

A fluent English and Mandarin speaker, she was born and raised in Nanjing, China, until the age of 10. Cindy read Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the University of Oxford, where she also read for a Master of Science in contemporary Chinese studies. Her research focused on Chinese political propaganda and modern youth opinion. She is a frequent radio and TV commentator on China issues.


Administrator: Amy Stanning