Kingston Conference on International Security


Thank you to all our participants who made KCIS2019 a resounding success! Stay tuned for news on KCIS2020.



The 14th annual Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS) theme, A Changing International Order? Implications for the Security Environment, examined indicators of change across three regions (Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas), explored trends in an attempt to predict a transforming international order, and debated 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.

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 (CADTC), the US Army War College (USAWC), 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.