Colloquium on Grand Strategy and Self-Determination Addresses Issues of Security and Power in a Changing International System


The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University (LISD) convened a seminar, “Grand Strategy and Self-Determination” at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs on November 19-20, 2014. This special Liechtenstein Colloquium (LCM) commemorated the twenty year anniversary of the Liechtenstein Initiative for the study of self-determination at Princeton and also coincided with the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. 

The first sessions of the conference were open to the public, with panel participants, invited experts, and audience members discussing the notion of "grand strategy" in today’s world of multiple international crises. Participants debated the definition and relevance of grand strategy through a historical lens as well as its role in today’s policy-making environment. Discussions also focused on changing notions of power in the international system, the role of technology, media, and social media, the possibility of “winning the peace,” and the necessary policy “toolkit” for strategy, statecraft, and diplomacy in times of multiple crisis.

Prince Hans-Adam II delivered a public address on “the future of the state,” reflecting on his time as head of state and his political philosophy, especially the role of direct democracy. Afternoon discussions then focused on the fluid and often-contested topic of self-determination and its potential interaction with and challenges to notions of strategy and governance. A successful grand strategy must harness the revolutionary power of self-determination.

Conversations continued on Saturday morning in the traditional private, off-the-record LCM format. Themes discussed included the role of power and leadership, economic, financial, and energy challenges, and the possibility of as-yet unimagined disruptions to nations and the international system. Participants debated the conceptual interaction between individual striving to "determine one’s destiny” and search for greater influence in governance, while the status quo encourages control and power by national governments.

The LCM drew together a unique mix of perspectives from the international academic, policy-making, and diplomatic worlds. Participants included Ambassadors Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the United Nations; Amb. Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States; Amb. Thomas Mayr-Harting, EU Permanent Representative at the United Nations, New York; Amb. Christian Wenaweser, Liechtenstein’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Amb. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, Inspector General of the German Foreign Office, Berlin. Leading international faculty included Professors Ali Ansari, Director of Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Anne-Marie Le Gloannec, Directrice de Recherche at Sciences Po in Paris;  James Gow, Department of War Studies at King’s College, London; William Maley, Chair, Diplomatic Studies, Australian National University, Canberra;  Stefan Wolff, Professor of International Security, University of Birmingham; Professor Robert G. Gilpin, Princeton's Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs, Emeritus; and Ciara Knudsen, Policy Planning Staff, Office of the Secretary of State, Washington. The seminar was chaired by Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, Director of LISD.

A Chair’s Summary is forthcoming from the Institute.