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.
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."