Kingston Conference on International Security

Kingston Conference on

International Security

Kingston Conference on

International Security

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The 14th annual Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS) will take place on 10-12 June 2019, at the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront. This year’s theme, A Changing International Order? Implications for the Security Environment, will examine indicators of change across three regions (Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas), explore trends in an attempt to predict a transforming international order, and debate the security implications associated with that change.  

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The liberal international order that was created under the leadership of the United States in the early 1940s, and maintained in various iterations since then by a succession of administrations in Washington, is being challenged as never before. Today, we are seeing that order challenged, not only by states that clearly do not accept an American-led international order, such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, but also by non-state actors such as transnational criminal organizations and global jihadist movements. The result is a hyper competitive, multipolar environment marked by a persistent struggle for influence and position within a “gray zone” that falls below the threshold of conventional war. An array of actors engage in aggressive and destabilizing activity to diminish Western influence and position by “weaponizing” non-traditional tools to skew perceptions of power, exploit political divisions, gain economic advantage, and magnify social and cultural fissures in target countries. But the liberal international order is also being challenged from within by those who are skeptical about the benefits of that order. In both the United States and Europe there is evidence of concern about the international order. That skepticism is particularly pronounced in the United States. The legitimacy that underpinned the Western liberal approach to global politics has been increasingly under assault. Rising skepticism about the costs, both military and economic, of sustaining that order has been accompanied by the rise of nationalism and protectionism that further calls into question the sustainability of that order.

The significant changes that have been in train since the end of the decade-long “unipolar moment” of American hegemony after the end of the Cold War are the focus of this year’s Kingston Conference on International Security. KCIS 2019 will examine the causes of the challenges to the legitimacy of the liberal international order, and why it has been so difficult to articulate a compelling narrative to support a continuation of American leadership. It will also examine how the order is changing, and what the implications of those changes will be for the future security environment faced by the United States and its allies in the Americas, in the North Atlantic, and in the Indo-Pacific region. This year’s panelists and speakers will analyze specific indicators of shifts in geopolitical power, the structural erosion of norms and institutions, and the relative resonance of competing narratives. The result will be new and innovative insights into the possible contours of a new international order.




Monday, 10 June 2019
Fort Frontenac Officers Mess, Fort Frontenac, 317 Ontario Street
1730  Opening and Welcome Remarks
        Major-General Stephen Cadden, Commander Canadian Doctrine and Training Command
Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Bellevue Room, 6th Floor, Holiday Inn

Registration and Breakfast


Welcome and Introductions
Colonel Christopher Ingels, US Army War College Visiting Defence Fellow


Challenge to the Conference
        Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander Canadian Army


Opening Keynote Address on the World Order Today
        Ben Rowswell, President, Canadian International Council




Panel 1: Drivers of Change
This panel will address the hypothesis that the international order is in transition. Panelists will assess factors driving change, including: interstate competition, geo-political relationships, global economics, populist movement influence, and the international order's structural power institutions that enforce norms. 


Lunch (Islandview Ballroom)


Keynote Address: The World in Disarray


Panels 2 - 4: Perspectives on a Changing International Order
Three regional panels will present evidence-based analyses of the transformation of the international order as it affects the Americas, the North Atlantic area, and the Indo-Pacific. Panelists will be asked to identify indicators of a changing international order by examining the evolution of dissonance between U.S. policies and the demonstrated behaviour of the U.S. in each region. Of particular interest is the degree to which American policy has evolved in a way that casts doubt on established U.S. norms and commitments to the region. Does changing U.S. policy and behaviour in the region suggest a growing reluctance on the part of the American public, a withdrawal from leadership, or a new set of international order norms? Each panel will also look at key American partners in the region. Do we see worries about the United States as a reliable security partner? Are key American allies hedging, particularly with other major powers? How resilient are the norms of the liberal international order in the region? Are they capable of being maintained within the region without American leadership? Who might take a leadership role in the region? Finally, what tentative insights might be offered about potential alternative international order futures and their security implications?


Panel 2: The Americas


Networking Dinner
        Kingston Thousand Islands Cruises, Confederation Basin Dock


Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Bellevue Room, 6th Floor, Holiday Inn


Registration and Breakfas


Welcome and Announcements


Panel 3: North Atlantic




Panel 4: Indo-Pacific




Keynote Address on Challenges in Meeting Changing on the Grounds
        Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, Deputy Commander - UNC Korea


Panel 5: Commonalities and Security Implications
The final panel will synthesize previous panel and speaker insights, to distill overarching security implications. Panelists will discuss relevant security implications by assessing the impact of security competition, geopolitics, economics, and populist factors of change; organizational change within the institutions that facilitate or resist that change; a summary of critical U.S. dissonance and partner hedging; and an assessment of official and emerging legitimacy narratives. The discussion will establish the contours of international order transitions affecting military and policy practitioners.


Closing Remarks
        Major General John Kem, Commandant US Army War College

Co-hosted by the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, the US Army War College, and the NATO Defense College in Rome, KCIS is widely acknowledged as Canada’s premier security strategy conference. The KCIS enjoys a proud tradition of bringing together academics and practitioners from around the world to explore salient security themes. Insights gained from conference dialogue inform the understanding and decision making of both policymakers and military practitioners.

KCIS Sponsors: Canadian Army, Centre for International and Defence Policy, Strategic Studies Institute-USAWC, NATO Defense College