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Queen's University

Kingston Conference on International Security

KCIS 2008
Wars Without Borders

17 - 19 June 2008


The third annual Kingston Conference on International Security, hosted and organized by Queen's Centre for International Relations (QCIR), and The Defence Management Studies Program at Queen's, together with the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), and the Canadian Land Forces Doctrine and Training System (LFDTS), took place on June 17-19, 2008, on the theme Wars Without Borders. With the aim of learning to better define and respond to the "new wars" of the 21st century, approximately 150 participants from government, the military and academe heard keynote speakers and panels reflecting on recent experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Africa, and in the Western Hemisphere.

The title and theme of the 2008 conference quite expectedly brought to mind warfare as a geographic phenomenon - as aggression without regard to the territorial boundaries that define states. But the panelists and other participants engaged in a wider discussion and debate on the idea of wars without borders situated in other meanings and concepts. In particular they used the conference theme to place these wars in a bold, modern context. They were described, for instance, as wars within territories but not about territory, since in many cases traditional borders have little intrinsic meaning. Wars without borders were described also as wars among the people in which the people were themselves the preferred targets for all belligerents, and where civil constraints and laws - two other kinds of borders - are often stripped away. Some speakers described the new wars as borderless in the sense that they seem to have broken way from the traditional Clausewitzian politics/warfare nexus and are now merely irrational conflicts.

In all the regions under review during the conference, participants found a common thread: the wars we are confronting today are often wars conducted without territorial, legal, political, or moral boundaries. From these presentations and discussions participants reached a general consensus that governments and armed forces that might become involved in the new borderless wars of the 21st century will have to develop new and unprecedented ways of preparing for the consequences and contradictions that they will encounter.

See below for conference reporting, articles, and presentations.

Conference Reporting


Articles & Interviews

  • "Relearning History's Lessons on Holistic Operations", Chris Thatcher, Transformation, Vanguard Magazine, March/April 2008.
  • "Today's lessons for tomorrow's wars", MGen Marquis Hainse, LFDTS, article on Vanguard,, July 2008.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000