'Peace and Security Under Uncertainty'

27 and 28 April 2017

A spectre is haunting the world - the spectre of uncertainty - and we do not need to look far for a source. On the 45th day in office of the 45th POTUS, a Google search of ‘Trump and Uncertainty’ produced 39,000,000 results clustered around the themes of economy, trade, politics and security. High on the uncertainty list are: alliances in Europe and the Pacific; the One China policy; the Two State Solution in Palestine; an on-off-on again immigration ban on Moslem countries; Kremlin interference in the domestic affairs of other states; wiretaps in the Trump Tower; the remote control of smart televisions by the CIA; and ‘the dumb deal’ for the U.S. to take ‘illegal immigrants’ from Australia.

Simultaneously - and not coincidentally - there has been a spike in uncertainty about what constitutes the truth. Many blame ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ for creating a ‘post-truth’ era. Some shoot the technology, finding the internet and new media to be at fault. Others accuse ‘postmodernists’ for having first introduced the virus of relativism into the body politic. Inspired by Project Q, a few believe uncertainty to be a quantum effect, the product of a global interconnectivity that elevates indeterminacy and entanglement from microcosmic to macropolitical levels.

Uncertainty, like insecurity, is as much a subjective state of mind as it is an objective condition of reality, raising new and troubling questions for those trying to assess its global impact. Are uncertainty, volatility and precarity actually on the rise? Or do repeated efforts to measure, record and represent uncertainty in fact create and amplify the condition? Is uncertainty the result of a single person and state or of a global trend in antipolitics and the media? Who benefits from and who is harmed by the global spread of uncertainty? Does progress, as in science, imply uncertainty?

The Centre for International Security Studies at The University of Sydney responds to these complex challenges with a Global Forum, ‘Peace and Security under Uncertainty’. Supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the School of Social and Political Science and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Global Forums are designed to respond rapidly, critically and reflexively to new and pressing global issues. The first CISS Global Forum will begin Thursday April 27 with an evening public forum at The University of Sydney. The event will continue Friday April 28 with a one-day workshop at the historic Quarantine Station in Sydney Harbour.

A diverse group of international participants, coming from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, United States, and other countries will join CISS scholars to address the topic from the perspective of their unique research areas and interests. The evening forum at The University of Sydney is open to the public and the workshop at Q Station is by invitation. Members of the media are invited to both events, and all of the proceedings will be videotaped, edited and made available to the public.

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