The 2015 London Conference examined the increasing fragility and fading legitimacy of the international order. Among the participants, there was a worrying lack of confidence that this process can be reversed. And while there was widespread recognition of shared global problems, there were questions over whether governments and international institutions could implement solutions.

'This post-war, rules-based system of ours cannot be assumed to have a long-term future. It is not naturally self-sustaining. In history, orders are not naturally self-sustaining' - Kevin Rudd, President, Asia Society Policy Institute; Prime Minister of Australia (2013; 2007–10)

Key conference takeaways

  • Western power is still necessary, but no longer sufficient – and developing countries cannot be expected to take the lead if the US and others drop out
  • Most countries agree on what the global problems are, but there is little confidence that governments, or our current international institutions, can solve them (or that those institutions can be reformed)
  • Emerging powers do not want to upend global order (unlike at previous times in history) but want a seat at the table – this is broadly acknowledged but not accommodated for
  • Dysfunctional domestic politics matter – though state power has eroded, even ‘easy wins’ that states could accomplish go unfulfilled due to political deadlock and atrophy
  • The global order cannot be taken for granted – that it has lasted this long is ahistorical. We cannot be complacent about institutions suffering ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

London Conference by the numbers

  • 1.3 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter
  • 8,000+ shares, re-tweets, likes, comments and clicks of our posts
  • 6th highest trending topic on Twitter in the UK on Day 2
  • 64 speakers including former heads of state, current foreign ministers, leading academics and business leaders  
  • 139 countries participating, either in person or online

Conference report

A full report of the conference, including reflections from Chatham House Director Dr Robin Niblett, will be available in the autumn.

London Conference 2016

The third edition of the London Conference will take place on 6-7 June 2016.