High-Level Forum Examines Lessons of 1814 and 1914 for Today

A detail of the 1919 painting “Gassed” by John Singer Sargent.

2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and the bicentenary of the opening of the Congress of Vienna–two dates that profoundly shaped the course of history.

While in 1814, towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the concerted powers of Europe were architects of a new international system, the leaders of 1914 have famously been described as sleepwalkers, stumbling into war.

At a time of complex and interconnected challenges–from regional tensions in Ukraine, Syria, South Sudan and the South China Sea to global threats linked to climate change, growing inequality, and the legacy of the financial crisis–what are the leaders of today: architects or sleepwalkers?

To generate a dialogue on this topic among decision-makers and experts, IPI, together with the Salzburg Global Seminar, will host a high-level forum from August 25th-29th. Entitled “1814, 1914 and 2014: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future,” the event will look at pathways for the future–based on lessons from the past, the flashpoints of today, the impact of emerging powers and institutions, as well as contemporary risks and challenges. Particular emphasis will be given to current crises in the Middle East as well as around Ukraine.

The symposium, made possible by generous support from Canada and Norway, will bring leaders from politics and diplomacy, together with historians, journalists, political scientists, philosophers, and writers from around the world.

Among the participants will be the foreign ministers of Canada, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia and Qatar, the former foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Hungary, the former President of Latvia, the former Prime Minister of Australia, the Secretary General of the OSCE, and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The keynote address will be made by renowned historian Margaret MacMillan. This unique conversation will take place at the beautiful Leopoldskron palace in Salzburg, former home to Max Reinhardt, the founder of the Salzburg Festival.

Although the event is by invitation only and closed to the public, several sessions will be recorded and up-loaded on the IPI website. Please also follow the event on Twitter at #IPISGS14 and on the IPI Facebook page.

The event in Salzburg is part of a series of meetings that IPI is holding this year on lessons learned from 1814 and 1914, preceded by a discussion of “Europe’s Future” in London this February. The next event will take place in Manama, Bahrain on September 10-11 on the impact of the First World War on the Middle East, particularly the ripple effects of the Sykes-Picot agreement on contemporary geopolitics.

Related media:

TodayProgramme Listen to coverage on BBC Radio 4 Today (August 27, 2014)

Click here for more information about the IPI documentary>>