History and Mission



At the end of the 20th century, a small gathering of analysts expressed concern at the ability of operations analysis and related fields to respond to the world's needs following the restructuring of the world into a multi-polar one.  The change that occurred with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the bi-polar era raised new questions for the military, economic, political and social sectors.  New or revised threats to world peace and stability became of increasing importance.

A consensus emerged as to the need for a significant change in the analytic processes, tools and ways of thinking about complex problems related to establishing and maintaining peace and stability in the world.  A prevalent view was that, at a minimum, the traditional opportunities for introducing new approaches and defining the new array of problems potentially susceptible to analytic processes were inadequate.  Overcrowded workshops severely limited opportunities to develop a comprehensive exchange of knowledge, and a need arose to address these challenges.

The group decided on a format that would allow for extended time for a limited number of researchers, analysts, and users of analysis to present their views and introduce new problems and approaches to solutions.  Symposia were designed to permit each accepted speaker a minimum of one hour of floor time, including adequate time for discussion and questions from the audience.

Thus was born, in 1996, what became known as the Cornwallis Group.

The Group took its name from Cornwallis Park, Nova Scotia, home to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. The Centre was the venue for the Cornwallis Group meetings until 2003 and, by that point, the name had become well known. Cornwallis Park, in turn, is named for Colonel Edward Cornwallis, Governor of Nova Scotia in the mid-18th century;  Edward was uncle to Charles Cornwallis, the general who surrendered the British Army to George Washington at Yorktown in 1781.


The Cornwallis Group defined its mission in the following terms:

"The Cornwallis Group sees itself as a vehicle for excellence in analysis.  Through discussion, outreach, and publication, it also sees itself as a bridge between national military agencies, other governmental departments, international and non-governmental organizations that often work together on the ground, but seldom meet in a reflective environment to discuss issues of common concern.  The group intends to reach out to those organizations, which do not usually participate in military conferences, to engage with them in establishing a common understanding of the wider constraints under which we are attempting to deal with new operational challenges."