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24 January 2020

NATO Leaders Meeting London 2019

NATO Engages: Innovating the Alliance in partnership with the UK Government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to mark the Alliance’s 70th anniversary.


On 3 December the School of Security Studies, King’s College London, collaborated with the Atlantic Council, the Munich Security Conference, Globsec and RUSI, to organize NATO Engages: Innovating the Alliance in partnership with the UK Government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to mark the Alliance’s 70th anniversary.

Directly preceding the NATO Leaders’ Meeting London 2019 on 3-4 December, the town hall-style, scene-setting event at Westminster Central Hall brought together 100s of policy makers, non-governmental security and defence specialists, academics and members of the public at Westminster Central Hall to encourage a broader public conversation about the relevance and importance of the Alliance.

NATO Engages focused on the evolving role of NATO as an alliance and how it will need to innovate to address on-going and emerging challenges in a changing world be these hard security threats posed by hostile state and non-state actors and the impact of technological change in the space and the cyber realms, or climate change and natural disasters.

The event involved participants from over 80 countries and followed a dynamic format with speakers ranging from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and heads of government including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, to university and high school students.

NATO Capucinecropped

During the event War Studies BA student Capucine Guillet presented on her experience the previous day at a Model NATO crisis simulation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office organized by the British International Studies Association (BISA).

NATO Funmi

KCL Vice Principal International, and Professor for Security, Leadership and Development, ‘Funmi Olonisakin provided a King’s welcome and introduced UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. Prof Olonisakin noted: "I'm encouraged to see such a strong turnout of young people in the audience... It will be you, the next generation that will have to live over the long-term with many of the decisions made." Later in the day Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau similarly noted that, "Young people need to know that they can and must actively shape the future by the things they do today – You are not leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today."


Alexander Downer, Executive Chair of the International School for Government at King’s, spoke on NATO’s global partnerships with a particular focus on the Alliance’s relationship with Australia.

King’s contributed to setting the agenda for the event and lead the consortium’s work on next generation engagement with 50% of the final participants aged under 35, including university and high school students drawn from across Alliance member countries.

As part of the next generation outreach, the School of Security Studies collaborated with King’s Online and BISA to produce 9 short educational videos to help prepare next generation participants ahead of the event



Students, academics and professional services staff from the School of Security Studies worked with colleagues from the other consortium partners to organize the event. King’s provided 40 volunteers to ensure the smooth running of essential aspects including registration, communication, media liaison, speaker and VIP handling.

View the KCL educational videos and NATO Engages live stream here.

NATO Engages demonstrates why King’s College London is such an internationally renowned focal point for the study of conflict, defence and security. This was a fantastic event and experience for our staff and students to be part of as the NATO Alliance turns 70 years old. Our student volunteers in particular did a sterling job helping to pull off this unique event with our consortium partners. I am sure they will all remember this for years to come, I know I will.

Prof Wyn Bowen, Head of Security Studies and the King’s lead for NATO Engages
NATO Wyn Trudeau

I couldn't be more inspired by topics introduced by national leaders, NATO officials and scholars.

Xiaoman Huang, a History and International Relations student in War Studies

NATO Engages was an inspiring experience with interesting discussions on the most pressing issues in the field of security at the moment. Additionally, the speakers were fascinating and seeing state leaders like Trudeau from up close was truly unique.

For Paula Köhler, a Terrorism, Security and Society MA student in War Studies