Kingston Conference on International Security


Thank you to all our participants who made K.C.I.S. 2019 a resounding success!
Stay tuned for news on K.C.I.S.2020


KCIS2019: Key Insights

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.  

  • International order undergoes constant change.  It is difficult to determine if current changes constitute a fundamental inflection point, or a natural adaptation of the existing system and relative leadership roles over that system.
  • The international order is transitioning back to a multi-polar dynamic, with a commensurate return of great power politics.
  • China’s ascendency as a global economic power (and as a result, military power) is challenging U.S. leadership over the international order, and China is replacing the U.S. as a regional hegemonic influencer in Asia.
  • The U.S. is the manager and enforcer of the current international order.  If the U.S. role changes, the status quo order is likely to change.
  • Resurgence of nationalism and populism in domestic politics around the world is altering international relationships, which are trending towards issue-specific, bi-lateral partnerships, and away from comprehensive, multi-lateral agreements.
  • Institutions of international order are an important component of the international order system. Existing institutions reinforce and manage the status quo order, new and emerging institutions may pose a significant challenge to the status quo.
  • Arguably, it is the inability to manage a smooth transition, not the change in international order leadership, which poses the greatest threat to peace.

This year’s conference theme emerged from a discussion among conference organizers following the Trump-Trudeau exchanges surrounding the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec in June 2018. Conference organizers on both sides of the border wondered if the Trump administration represents an aberration, or an inflection point indicating a fundamental shift in the norms of international relations, perceptions of national interest, and the foreign policies used to pursue those interests. The discussion quickly turned global.  Other populist-nationalist movements, such as Brexit in Britain, the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Arab Spring – in Anbar, Egypt, and the Maghreb; and the emergence of nationalist leaders around the globe, such as President Vladimir Putin (in Russia), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (in Turkey), Prime Minister Andrej Babis (in the Czech Republic), President Jair Bolsanaro (in Brazil), and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (in India) suggest the populist-nationalist trends extend well beyond the U.S., and Western politics. Currently 20 countries around the globe are under some form of populist government. A general dissatisfaction with the status quo order, spurred by fears of persistent conflict, economic instability, divisive ideologies, mass migration, and societal demographic shifts indicate the world may be on the cusp of a fundamental shift in the 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.