International Security Forum Bonn 2019

September 30 - October 2, 2019

The International Security Forum serves as a platform to convene distinguished international security experts as well as practitioners of security and foreign policy to debate current challenges in international security, identify successful German, European and transatlantic foreign and security policy, and discuss comprehensive strategic solutions. 

The conference is marked by open discussion and direct conversation. Through the thematic and regional expertise of its participants, the Forum offers insights into the most pressing issues confronting policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as featuring experts from Russia, China, and Europe. To encourage open discussion, the Forum follows the Chatham House Rule. 

This year, the Forum will last for three days including scenario round-tables with young professionals as well as a special focus day on „cyber security and artificial intelligence“.


Hosted by the Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies, University of Bonn.

Co-Hosted by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS).

September 30, 2019

Scenario Round-Tables

October 1, 2019

Main Day 

October 2, 2019

Special Focus Day 

Our Partners and Supporteurs:

© Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
© U.S. Consulate General Düsseldorf
© Amt für Wirtschaftsförderung der Stadt Bonn

The Scenario Round-Tables

Preparing for the future is as important as dealing with the present.

The Round-Tables were a unique opportunity for young professionals to exchange ideas and thoughts on current developments in international security with high-level and experienced experts from the United States, Germany, France, China, and Russia. The goal was to blend analysis and experience with fresh ideas, to think outside of the box and discuss future possibilities and how to deal with them.

Two predetermined scenarios were first discussed in two separate groups (one scenario per group). Each group was asked to anticipate possible actions the most important states involved in their assigned scenario might take, develop a strategy from a German-European perspective, and then present the results to all round-table participants. The respondent group (respectively) was invited to question the possible actions that were anticipated and the strategies that were developed, which invariably lead to a lively discussion between the two groups.

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The Main Day of the Forum

In open discussions and direct conversations under the Chatham House Rule, distinguished international security experts as well as practitioners of security and foreign policy gather to debate current challenges in international security. This year, the group will first discuss what „the West“ might have missed over the past 30 years, if there are lessons to be learned, and how „the West“ should adapt to a changing world order. In the second session, China and its ambition to become a great power that is able to reshape world order by 2040 will be the focus of the conversation.

Session I: „The West: Unravel, Reform, Adapt?“

  • Is the international liberal order, which was driven by the transatlantic community and which enabled German unification and European integration, able to withstand the challenge from nationalism and authoritarianism?
  • How can political leaders adapt the transatlantic relationship in order to address the domestic and international challenges that confront us?
  • Is growing international competition antithetical to the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human dignity? How can those fundamental values best be defended and promoted in current circumstances?

Session II: „China: A Strategic Outlook“

  • Does China’s regional multilateral deterrence strategy lead to greater dominance in East- and South East Asia? 
  • Is China’s authoritarian capitalism appealing to other countries in the market of ideas?
  • How should the U.S. and Europe react to China’s economic, political and technological aspirations?
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Special Focus Day on Cyber Security & Artificial Intelligence

Digitalization and the advances in AI technology challenge traditional approaches to international politics, governance, security and warfare. During the Special Focus Day, distinguished AI and Cyber Security experts from multiple countries will discuss how to address these challenges.

Panel I: „Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence and Smart Warfare“

  • In a world of constant cyber-attacks and digital manipulation of political processes, do the lines between war and peace need to be redefined?
  • How do the advances in AI and cyber capabilities change warfare?

Panel II: „AI Society: Public Security, Cyber Crime and Safety Concerns“

  • Observing the rapid growth of surveillance technology around the world, how to balance national security, public security and fundamental rights of citizens — especially with reference to democratic societies?
  • Should there be limits to the applications of AI and digital technologies in our evolving societies? How to define these possible boundaries?

Panel III: „Global Governance of AI and Cyber Security“

  • What have we achieved in global cyber governance, if anything at all? What are the key issues that global cyber governance should achieve in the next five years? 
  • The EU, US, and China seem to follow increasingly different pathways in terms of their digital policies – why is that and what are the consequences of this divergence? Are we ending up in a divided world of 2-3 cyber-spheres, as some suggest?

Download the full report here

About the International Security Forum Bonn

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