The London Conference 2018

The conference worked through a diversity of regional, political and professional perspectives, assessed the drivers of global change, located the risks and identified opportunities for governments, business and NGOs.

Special event Recording
21 June 2018 TO 22 June 2018 — 8:00AM TO 4:30PM
St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel Euston Rd London NW1 2AR

Risk and opportunity are inherent to change. At the global level, change is currently manifest in the emergence of more explicit geopolitical competition and increased risk of conflict.

It can be seen in the challenges to established trade relationships and greater disorder in global economic governance. Hitherto robust international norms, institutions, alliances and regimes are under pressure.

The global political scene features the advance of authoritarian systems, the rise of assertive identity politics and polarization within established democracies.

All of these trends pose risks to security, prosperity and to the basic policy coordination needed to address the shared interests and vulnerabilities that arise from inescapable interdependencies.

But change also provides the requirement and opportunity for innovation. Among the questions at issue are: whether and where transnational civil society can develop forms of cooperation that compensate for state rivalry; how the technological revolution can be mobilized to address international policy challenges; how best practices in governance might be reconceived to better respond to domestic demands and external exigencies; and how the international system can find a way to accommodate different political systems to ensure peace and shared prosperity.


Thursday 21 June 2018

Registration and refreshments

0800 – 0900

Welcome | What is on your mind?

Dr Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House

0900 – 0930

Keynote | The great partnership: Delivering global Britain

The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities

Through a diversity of regional, political and professional perspectives, the 2018 Chatham House London Conference assesses the drivers of global change, locate the risks and identify the current opportunities for governments, business and NGOs.

0930 – 1015

Plenary session one | Strategies and instruments for dealing with increased geopolitical competition

The context

The United States has moved away from a definition of interest based on leadership and a degree of geopolitical philanthropy to one founded on securing transactional advantage.

China under Xi Jinping is emerging as a great power in the traditional mould, mixing global economic engagement with regional strategic revisionism. Restraints on the assertiveness of Russia have weakened dramatically. Iran and Saudi Arabia are conducting an open if indirect struggle for supremacy across the Middle East. North Korea’s progress towards an intercontinental nuclear capability is raising urgent questions about the vulnerabilities that the United States and Japan are willing to tolerate. International and regional institutions intended to facilitate cooperation are proving weak in the face of these challenges. As cracks emerge in the international system, countries are increasingly caught up in the pursuit of competing interests and the search for influence and authority.

The conversation

Are conditions for great power cooperation on geostrategic questions irreparably damaged? What can countries do to prevent or end conflict in a leaderless world? How can countries caught in the middle of increased geopolitical competition respond?

1015 – 1115


1115 – 1145

Plenary session two | Vibrancy and disruption: a global economy pulling in different directions

The context

The global economy is showing signs of vibrancy across the developed world and major emerging markets, and the projections are for a further acceleration in output growth.

In general terms, however, the outlook is increasingly clouded by a range of concerns such as those relating to the fragmentation of the global trade regime amid protectionist impulses, persistent weaknesses in the global financial system, environmental degradation and the risks posed by potential geopolitical shocks. 

The conversation

What measures can make the global economy more resilient to shocks? How can governments adapt policy to the ways in which technology is changing the global economy? What responsibilities do corporations carry to build more equitable and sustainable economic systems? Should developing economies be open to alternative systems of economic governance when seeking the impetus for economic growth?

1145 – 1245


1245 – 1345

Break-out sessions – round one

Session 1 | The new China: Visions of global order
This breakout session will take place in ‘Hansom Hall’

Session 2 | Europe: What crisis?
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

Session 3 | Technological innovation in Africa: From local innovation to global influence
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Exchange’

1345 – 1500


1500 – 1530

Break-out sessions – round two

Session 4 | The future of deterrence: Increasing complexity
This breakout session will take place in ‘Hansom Hall’

Session 5 | Artificial intelligence: Developing responses
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’​

Session 6 | The Middle East and North Africa: Divergent economic trajectories
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Quarters’

Session 7 | Global trade: A system in transition
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Exchange’

1530 – 1645

Short break

1645 – 1700

Plenary session three | Filling the gap: Can civil society drive global cooperation?

The context

At a time of reduced intergovernmental cooperation, civil society-led movements offer a potentially compensating vehicle for transnational coalitions of interest.

They can challenge orthodoxies that reinforce institutional and individual biases and in a connected world they have the potential to quickly coalesce support and gather momentum. A key question for the future is what can be done – and on which issues – to encourage a mobilization of civil society. And at a time when civil societies around the world are under pressure from shrinking space, either through suppression or, paradoxically, through co-optation as governments take on their agendas as official strategy, are expectations of what can be achieved being set too high?

The conversation

Are some non-state actors more powerful than governments today? Can transnational civil society complement, inform and genuinely shape global governance – even when working on a single issue? Do decentralised movements need a single set of core beliefs in order to succeed? What do recent scandals within the aid and development sector reveal about its future leadership potential? Can campaigns such as the #MeToo movement reshape policy as well as political debate?

1700 – 1800

Close of day one and drinks reception


Conference dinner

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, AuthorPurple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist, writer of short stories, and nonfiction. She has written the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), the short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), and the book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists (2014).

In 2008, Adichie was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”.

Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.

1930 – 2230

Friday 22 June 2018

Registration and refreshments

0815 – 0830

Breakfast roundtables: Chatham House ideas

Please note that places at the breakfast roundtables are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis on the day.

A | The impact of #MeToo on power and masculinity
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Exchange’

B | The global media crisis: Trusting ‘news’ in a misinformation era
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

C | Greening the Belt and Road Initiative: Hoffmann Centre Solutions
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

D | Facing the future: Queen Elizabeth II Academy fellows on leadership
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Billiard Room’

E | Chatham House ‘Undercurrents’ podcast: How are political elites engaging with their publics?
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Station Masters Office’ 

Note: this discussion will be recorded and published as an episode of Undercurrents, the Chatham House podcast.

F | The future of the EU: Brexit and beyond
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Quarters’

0830 – 0930

Convene in Hansom Hall

0930 – 0945

Plenary session four | Good governance: Best practices for a variegated world

The context

The quality of domestic governance is one of the central determinants of successful, inclusive and sustainable growth in countries across the world and of their long-term political stability.

Yet accelerating shifts in the global geopolitical and economic order mean that domestic social, economic and political models are likely to be even more variegated and diffuse than previously assumed.  

The conversation

What is the ‘irreducible core’ of a good domestic governance infrastructure and what does it take to be applied in different settings and contexts? As individual leaders play a more decisive role in shaping policies and institutions, are multilateral institutions terminally in decline? What reforms must democratic governments consider to balance the demands of sovereignty, globalisation and democracy?

0945 – 1045

In conversation | Global organized crime and the revolution in the drugs economy

Misha Glenny’s bestselling non-fiction book, McMafia, about the globalization of organized crime, was adapted by the BBC and AMC as a fictional drama series. 

His most recent book, Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio, the biography of the leader of a Rio drug gang, is in production as a Hollywood feature film.His book on cyber-crime, DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia, is based primarily on interviews with people actively engaged in criminal activity in some 20 countries to map the development of cyber malfeasance.

A former BBC Central Europe correspondent, he won the Sony Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting for his work during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

He is also a winner of Digital Security Journalist of the Year. He has served as visiting professor at Columbia University, the LSE and University College London.

1045 – 1130


1130 – 1200

Plenary session five | A new connectivity: Technology and international policy

The context

Technology in its widest sense is proving both creative and destructive. It grows some jobs and wipes out others. It generates connections and personal networks but can destroy privacy.

It can be a force for democracy or an enforcer of dictatorship. It can mobilize and disseminate objective data or subvert electoral processes. It can help deal with security challenges and create enormous systemic vulnerabilities. 

The conversation

Will technology solve societal problems or accentuate them? How can the benefits of technology and AI be utilized for humanitarian as well as commercial purposes? In what ways do policymakers need to approach the regulation of economic activity in technology-driven, data-rich sectors?

1200 – 1300


1300 – 1400

Plenary session six | A test for the future: Land as the next strategic resource

The context

In the next decade, land will emerge as the key strategic resource, with major implications for national security, human security and the environment.

Pressure on land and the services it provides is building due to economic, demographic and climatic shifts. Land is finite, and bringing new land into use nearly always comes with a cost. Indeed, land use changes are driving rates of biodiversity loss which threaten environmental stability. Trade helps overcome the regional disparities – land-rich countries typically export food and ‘virtual’ land and water to land-scarce regions, for example. But the global trading system and critical infrastructure likewise face unprecedented strain. 

The conversation

What could be the impacts of increasing competition for land – for people, and for the environment? Can technologies solve the problem? Which have the most promise? What are the possible security implications of growing competition for land? Which countries will be the winners and losers in a future of scarce land?

1400 – 1500

Short break

1500 – 1515

A conversation | Can America regain its balance?

The United States is experiencing a period of deepening political polarization, with dislocating effects felt in both domestic and foreign policy.

What are the sources of America’s polarisation, and are its manifestations transient or permanent aspects of American political life? How far will the political pendulum swing and where might it settle?

1515 – 1615

Closing session | ‘So what do I need to do?’ Conclusions and action plans

Dr Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House

1615 – 1630

End of conference