July 2019 / News

Report Back: ISOA-SCEG Conference on Security and Stability

Graham Kerr

Chief Administrative Officer

The ISOA-SCEG joint conference on Security and Stability may not have been listed amongst the top 10 global events during May 2019, nonetheless it was an excellent occasion. 


The concept for the two organisations to plan a conference in London was mooted early last year.

The conference comprised a series of excellent speakers led by Admiral Lord West giving the keynote address ‘Strategic Trends and Risks – Horizon Scanning’.  This wide-ranging analysis left one in little doubt that the world is in the least stable condition experienced for many a year.

The combination of Sunni-Shia polarisation, the unfinished Arab Spring, population growth/ youth unemployment, climate change, an unpredictable US President, resurgent Russia, expansionist China, weakened western democracies all combine to underline the verity of that conclusion.  Other speakers and panels tackled stability issues in the Middle East, Africa, the maritime domain and the threats to the Western Order.

The overarching aim was to deliver an event which would attract both parties’ members and as many potential clients as possible.  We could have done better concerning the latter but otherwise the conference was well supported.   For those who wish to find out more about the SCEG, please click here – similarly for ISOA, click here

In brief the SCEG is a special interest group which was set up in 2011 at the behest of the UK Government to support the Government in achieving transparent regulation of the UK’s private security sector.  ISOA was set up in 2001 as a trade association in Washington DC to promote the interests of any organisation that might be involved with post disaster or conflict operations.

An underlying aim of this conference was to explore the synergies that might be achieved between the two organisations for the benefit of all interested parties.  The obvious interdependence between security and stability provided a suitable platform for such exploration.


There were two distinct parts to the event; firstly, an evening reception, which was held on 14 May in an iconic London venue – the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall.  Secondly, a full day’s conference which took place in the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1 Birdcage Walk.  The reception proved to be a great icebreaker given the surroundings, the free flowing drink and canapes with the additional bonus of a cameo performance from Sir Nicholas Soames, as our keynote speaker for the evening.  The latter’s reflections upon his grandfather (Winston Churchill) and the wartime operation of the Cabinet Rooms were rightfully very well received.  One appreciated more modern air-conditioning systems and the prohibition of smoking – the lack of the former and omnipresence of the latter must have made wartime working conditions challenging in their own right.

In conclusion it was a real privilege, of great interest and a good deal of fun to have been co-Chairman of the ISOA-SCEG Conference. We should be able to capitalise upon the relationships that were germinated during the event. In terms of business there must be a continued role for the private sector in providing security to enable stability operations to be conducted effectively.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Paul Gibson, the Director of SCEG for the bulk of the organisation and legwork involved in putting together a most successful event.