2017 Plenary 1: Peace? Prosperity? Principle? Securing What Purpose?

World War II. Korea. 9/11. These have been key moments when western states came together in defence of freedom, democracy and shared values. Yet today, the people’s faith in democracy and international institutions is under threat. Neo-Nazis are also emboldened. The political divide is no longer just left versus right, but increasingly it is between those who value liberalism and those who do not. Panelists discussed the future of the principles for which men and women a generation ago fought and died – especially in light of a recent rise of populism, individualism and radical protests in a number of democratic countries. Panelists noted that during this democratic stress test – the greatest that this generation has faced – domestic problems must be solved while valuing the post WWII international order. Suggestions ranged from classes in civics to fostering grassroots solutions to encouraging a greater diversity of views in foreign affairs. All agreed that the way forward is still uncertain, but the work begins through cooperation.