The 62nd Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference
NAFAC Theme Overview
PARTNERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY:
Aligning Values and Interests in a Multipolar World
The world order faces challenges in the 21st century that no single actor can overcome alone. Truly transnational, emerging challenges— a shifting climate, growing refugee populations, the integrity of global health infrastructure, and the expanding cyber domain— introduce a new level of complexity that traditional instruments of state power are hard-pressed to manage. This, coupled with the rise of revisionist powers and an increasing trend toward authoritarianism, has generated tremendous pressure for the liberal world order. Democracies across the globe grow steadily more stressed. The fabric of trust that necessarily underpins the cooperation and stability of the rules-based world order is increasingly under strain.
The United States no longer enjoys its position as the unrivalled head of the liberal world order. This presents new challenges as it seeks to advance national interests and defend core values. As authoritarian states gain strength, what role do liberal values play in bolstering trust among the world’s democracies? Is it possible for traditional allies to advance their own security and prosperity while sufficiently balancing commitments to their partners?
The tension between values and interests is testing longstanding U.S. partnerships with like-minded allies. Strengthening the strategic concordance that underpins these partnerships has become paramount. The conference will explore what it takes to achieve sustainable alignment between values and interests when constructing partnerships to respond to 21st century challenges. The ability to defend the integrity of these partnerships, across a range of values and interests, could dictate the ultimate success of the liberal world order; and, most notably, the fate of the United States at its head.
Established in 1960, the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference brings together more than 150 undergraduate students from the United States and over a dozen foreign countries for three days of critical discussions, lectures, informal exchanges, and social events.