KCIS 2010 Conference
Most of the violent conflicts to which western armed forces have responded over the past two decades have had their origins in the incapacity of states to perform their most basic function - to provide for the safety and security of their citizens. Governments of states variously described as fragile, failing or failed are marked by weak public administration, notably though not exclusively in the provision of public services related to security and the rule of law. Because these conflicts generate civil conflict which is destructive of societies, economies and cultures within states and liable to spill over into broader interstate and regional instability, the international community has found itself increasingly engaged in attempts to foster effective governance strategies, most often during or immediately after civil or transnational wars. Western armed forces and police have gained considerable experience in reforming security institutions and training personnel at the national and local levels, while at the same time coping with difficult issues of civil-military relations. How to provide the human, technical and tactical capabilities for effective national and local security in these countries, how best to deploy international military and civilian forces for such purposes, and how to recognize when the job is well-enough done to permit gradual or complete disengagement - these are the central questions that will animate KCIS 2010.
Violent civil and regional conflict generated by the incapacity of states has been witnessed in the Balkans, Africa, Southwest Asia and Latin America. While culture and geopolitics may make for variations in the regional expression of such conflict, fragile and failed states and the international responses to them also have many striking common characteristics. It thus makes sense to adopt a comparative perspective in exploring the links between weak domestic security governance and threats to national and regional security, and in examining the role of international security forces in assisting in the development of more effective local and national security structures. Building such capacity to the point where full responsibility for security can safely be left to local and national authorities is a critical task for the international community in all these regions, as is recognizing and acting appropriately when that point has been reached.
The conference, 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), deliberated on these questions through four panels, interspersed with keynote speakers who introduced and highlighted the major issues for policy-makers.