LISD Convenes Policy Colloquium on 200th Anniversary of the Congress of Vienna

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination hosted the colloquium, "The Congress of Vienna, 1815/2015/2115: Analyses, Perspectives, Projections," in Vienna, Austria at the Gartenpalais Liechtenstein, June 7-8, 2015. The colloquium was convened under the auspices of LISD, The House of Liechtenstein, and the Federal Chancellery of Austria, in cooperation with the Wiener Zeitung and the European Forum Alpbach.

This special public colloquium analyzed and assessed the lessons and meanings of the 1815 Congress of Vienna for today, and considered possible perspectives for the future international system. The meeting opened with a public panel discussion with José Manuel Barroso, Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, Harold James, Andrew Moravcsik, Albert Rohan, Amin Saikal, Thomas Seifert, and Reinhard Stauber in the afternoon on Sunday, June 7. This was followed by a full day of public, on-the-record sessions on Monday, June 8. Monday's sessions included: "1815 to 2015: Historical Considerations of the Congress of Vienna," with introductory statements by Beth English, Harold James, Andrew Moravcsik, Hans-Ulrich Seidt, Reinhard Stauber, and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff; a keynote address by LISD Policy Fellow, José Manuel Barroso; and "Implications for 2015 and Beyond," with introductory statements by Franz Fischler, Brigitte Ederer, Yasmin Elhady, James Gow, Manfred Matzka, Wolfgang Petritsch, Amin Saikal, and Christian Strohal. LISD Director Wolfgang Danspeckgruber chaired the colloquium, with opening remarks at the Monday session made by Maria-Pia Kothbauer Liechtenstein. 

Drawing from the lessons of history and the successes and shortcomings of various conceptions of “world order” following the ratification of the Final Acts of the Congress on June 8, 1815, the colloquium explored lessons, means, ways, and ideas for a more stable, peaceful, inclusive, and functioning order for our own uncertain times. By “thinking the unthinkable” and addressing what is too often avoided, one can develop proactive, out of the box, anticipatory ideas for possible stabilization of today's world of multiple, many times interactive, crises, and search for the means to avoid a further downward spiral dynamic. The colloquium's focus was inspired by the successful conclusion of the Congress of Vienna in June 1815 which de facto brought about more than half a century of relative peace and stability to the European continent, permitting significant political, socio-economic, industrial and technological developments, as well as the formation of states like Belgium and the Netherlands, Swiss permanent neutrality, and eventually German and Italian unification. 

By reviewing the historical context of the Congress of Vienna and the dynamics of the challenges to today's international order the colloquium focused on the lessons learned from prior successful inclusive concert diplomacy as applied to the changing nature of today’s diplomacy, shaped by global real-time interaction with social media and non-state actors. In the current global setting, anything seems possible and the rules of order appear to be in the process of being rewritten. Existing international institutions seem under-equipped for the task of effectively enforcing peace and stability. They face a series of challenges deriving from socio-economic and demographic developments; religious-ideological radicalization; nationalism and socio-cultural forces and values; non-state actors; globalization; nanotechnologies; environmental and health challenges; and the possibility of catastrophic terrorism. In this context of seemingly ineffective global governance structures, we see the reemergence of great power geopolitics versus local self-determination.

A summary report of the colloquium will be published.