This article originally appeared at BBC.
In 2010, Cambridge professor Nicholas Boyle said “a great event” in the year 2014 would be pivotal in determining whether the 21st Century would bring peace and prosperity or war and poverty.
With the loss of two Malaysia Airlines flights, the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, war in Gaza and Israel, the emergence of militant group Islamic State in the Middle East, tensions in Europe over Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, his prediction may seem prescient.
BBC News takes a look at some of the crises facing world leaders, as Nato members gather in the Welsh city of Newport for a summit. BBC World News will be asking if the world is slipping out of control – in a special programme, New World Disorder, at 13:00 GMT (14:00 BST).
Western leaders have described the Ukraine conflict as the biggest crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
Tensions erupted when Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March. Two months later, pro-Russian gunmen declared independence in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Some 2,600 people have been killed in fighting between Ukrainian troops and the separatists since mid-April, according to the UN.
This does not include the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysian Airlines MH17, which was shot down – probably by rebels, accidentally – in the Donetsk area in July.
The Ukraine conflict has pushed Nato’s relationship with Russia to new lows, with the alliance accusing Russia of sending at least 1,000 troops and hundreds of armoured vehicles into eastern Ukraine.
The EU and US have already imposed a series of economic sanctions on Moscow for backing Ukraine’s separatists.
The Syrian conflict has just entered its 42nd month. Described by the UN as “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era,” almost 50% of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes because of clashes between government forces and rebel fighters, which include jihadists from Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
This time last year, the US and its allies came very close to launching punitive military air strikes on government positions after a deadly chemical weapons attack killed hundreds of civilians on the outskirts of Damascus.