The London Conference 2019

At the London Conference 2019, Robin Niblett talks with Sir John Major about the current state of global order and today’s major issues in international affairs.

Special event Recording
13 June 2019 TO 14 June 2019 — 8:00AM TO 3:00PM


Thursday 13 June 2019

Registration and refreshments

0800 – 0900

Welcome | What does a rules-based order mean to you?

Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House

0900 – 0915

In conversation | Re-imagining a rules-based order and the UK's role within it

The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH, President, Chatham House

Robin Niblett talks with Sir John Major about the current state of global order and today’s major issues in international affairs.

0915 – 1000

Plenary session one | Aggression, deterrence and flexibility: understanding the rules for preventing conflict

Context and outlook

Geopolitical tensions and the rise in contests – between political values, for access to resources and over territorial disputes – are increasing the risks of conflict.

This calls for new approaches to mediating and arbitrating power rivalries, and a better understanding of the motivations that drive conflicts to improve methods of deterrence and prevention.

The discussion

What confidence-building and de-escalation experiences might be incorporated into any new rules or formal mechanisms for deterrence or conflict prevention? What are the main sources of cross-border risk for which better multilateral responses are needed? And what does the pace of technological advances imply for the development of new rules to govern the conduct and domains of modern warfare?

1000 – 1115


1115 – 1145

Plenary session two | A plan for sustainable and inclusive growth

Context and outlook

Failure to devise coordinated multilateral policies to promote sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth will lead to unmanageable social pressures, heightened conflict risk and irreversible environmental degradation that will damage countries’ potential for sustainable growth.

While approaches to these problems are currently in place, many are at risk of falling victim to global political currents and rivalries.

The discussion

What specific coordinated measures can be taken to help societies de-couple growth and resource use? How can strategies for growth address inequality and distributional bias, issues that are central to the domestic wellbeing of richer and poorer nations? What policies and tools are needed to transition to more inclusive growth as part of the Sustainable Development Goals? Are there common instruments that might be evolved to assist societies in adjusting to the disruptive impact of technology on workforces, in developed and developing economies?

1145 – 1300


1300 – 1400

Break-out sessions – round one

Session 1 | The EU as a rules-maker
This breakout session will take place in ‘Hansom Hall’

Session 2 | Failing rules or failing policies: The case of the Middle East
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Exchange’

Session 3 | Global trade: Periodic disruption or permanent uncertainty?
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

1400 – 1515


1515 – 1545

Break-out sessions – round two

Session 4 | Auditing international law
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Quarters’

Session 5 | The Russian test
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Exchange’

Session 6 | The rulebook for climate action
This breakout session will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

Session 7 | Democracy and the future of democratic governance
This breakout session will take place in ‘Hansom Hall’

1545 – 1700

Short break to reconvene in Hansom Hall

1700 – 1715

Plenary session three | New rules for business

Context and outlook

International businesses are under pressure. The momentum behind globalization has weakened significantly, and corporations are being caught up in a cycle of disruptive geopolitical and economic disputes.

There are opportunities for companies, business leaders and investors to leverage their resources and networks to help address some of the root causes of current social and economic pressures and to inspire multilateral cooperation. To do so effectively, however, all stakeholders must reflect on the core purposes of business.

The discussion

What, in addition to generating revenue and enhancing shareholder value, are the goals and purposes business should seek to promote? How can business work to make the effects of globalization less disruptive for societies? How can they contribute to progressive initiatives that compensate for space vacated by governments and improve prospects for long-term, inclusive growth? What role is impact investing playing and what are the latest trends in this space?

This session will conclude with the awarding of the prize to the winner of The World Today and FT student article competition for which school students aged 16-19 were invited to answer the question: ‘If you were UN Secretary-General for a day, what would be your first action, and why?’

1715 – 1815

Close of day one


Conference dinner and keynote speech: The future of humanity

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and Co-Founder, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge

Lord Rees of Ludlow draws on themes from his recent book On the Future: Prospects for Humanity, in which he argues that humanity’s prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow.

He outlines how the future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges.

As a leading astrophysicist as well as a senior figure in UK science, he has conducted influential theoretical work on many diverse subjects, but especially on the evolution of the Universe.

1945 – 2230

Friday 14 June 2019

Registration and breakfast

0800 – 0830

Chatham House roundtables

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 | Culture, identity politics and multiple belongings
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Ladies Smoking Room’

B | Public discourse and the media: Facts and rules
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Quarters’

C | Brexit: state of play for the EU and UK
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Exchange’

D | Trustworthy artificial intelligence
This roundtable will take place in ‘The Billiard Room

0830 – 0930

Plenary session four | Access to healthcare: aligning business goals and social outcomes

Context and outlook

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing is a key Sustainable Development Goal, and combating rising levels of chronic, infectious and non-communicable diseases is one of the biggest public health challenges with implications for health and economic policy-making.

In recent years the opportunities and challenges in healthcare have expanded significantly, driven by globalization, innovation in healthcare technology and delivery, and the complexity of the healthcare landscape and array of global actors. Progress has been made in combating cancer and other diseases; however, despite clinical advances, health systems continue to struggle to meet patient expectations amid their budgetary responsibilities. There is also the challenge of protecting the right to health while sustaining research to meet the global health needs of tomorrow.

The discussion

How can global health actors navigate the space between the pursuit of social good and the pursuit of private interests? How can they collaborate to achieve the shared responsibility of delivering access to health innovation? In what ways can multilateral rules and policies be strengthened to instil trust, foster collaboration, improve transparency and expedite access? What role can governments, multilateral organizations, businesses, patients and others play in managing the tensions between corporate and societal goals? And how can progress and investment on health research be maintained while increasing access to better healthcare?

0930 – 0945


1045 – 1115

Plenary session five | Managing technological disruptions: Governance and accountability

Context and outlook

The pace of technological change has to date outstripped the capacity of international society to agree common rules for its management and governance.

Part of the challenge lies in its inherently double-edged effects. While technological competition is becoming a branch of geopolitics, technology can also help states address common challenges. Technology is opening new domains of warfare, but also enhances resilience to natural disasters and cross-border threats. It can threaten democratic processes but also provide the means for transparency and greater accountability.

The discussion

What does tech governance in a multipolar world look like? How can a regulatory balance be achieved that enables creative aspects of technology to flourish while mitigating the potential for disorder? What are the emerging technologies that demand early regulatory action? What responsibilities should private actors in the tech sector have when they operate across different jurisdictions?

1115 – 1230


1230 – 1330

Closing discussion | Who will write the rules for the 21st century?

Context and outlook

The durability of the current rules-based system into the 21st century partly depends on the extent to which it serves the national and regional interests of non-Western powers and their allies.

The international system’s future depends on how well equipped it is to respond to the ambitions of countries like China, Russia and India, and emerging powers such as Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey. How societies manage increased global competition over resources, conflict and security risks and the pursuit influence will determine whether the future resembles the present or if a new global order will take shape.

The discussion

Will divergent national interests lead to new rules and institutions or will the instincts of the international community lean towards the preservation of the current order? What will be the nature of a future rules-based order and who will it serve? What features of the existing system will remain and what will no longer be sacrosanct? How will the international governance systems change and how will key global institutions and regional bodies adapt? How, if enhanced geopolitical and geo-economic competition is here to stay, will the terms on which it is carried out have to be re-thought?

1330 – 1445

Conclusions and action plans

Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House

1445 – 1500

End of conference