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The critical role of diplomacy

April 2023 update from Wilton Park CEO Tom Cargill.


The crisis in Sudan is a reminder of the fragility of many states, and the huge cost when things fall apart.

Preventing this is a critical role of diplomacy and discreet mediation of the sort Wilton Park has specialised in for decades. Sadly we don’t always succeed, but it highlights the importance of our work for the UK and the world, and the need to do more and do better. This is a key priority for us over the coming year.

More generally our programme continues to grow in support of the outcomes of the Integrated Review Refresh and the Foreign Secretary’s priorities. Importantly this includes a strong focus on securing the rights of women and girls, with more information below.

We are also increasing our work with other government departments such as the Department for Business and Trade, as well as selected governments internationally, with examples this month including our growing support for the Five Eyes countries, and work to support global trade.

International Women and Girls

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s recently launched International Women and Girls Strategy sets out a set of principles and goals, alongside priorities of the 3 Es – Educating girls; Empowering women and girls, and championing their health and rights; and Ending gender-based violence.

Wilton Park is supporting this important initiative and the FCDO’s new global campaign, Rights, Freedom, Potential, with a series of five thematic events over the course of the next year.

All the events aim to help deliver progress on the empowerment and rights of women and girls around the world in the context of growing global threats and the disproportionate impact of COVID, conflict and climate crisis.

The first event in March focused on stimulating renewed global momentum to drive long lasting improvement to women’s economic empowerment.

The second event, in April, explored ways of working together to promote comprehensive, universal sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Upcoming events in this series are on Preventing gender-based violence, Addressing violence in and through education and Engaging women’s movements and strengthening women’s rights.

Watch the FCDO’s Special Envoy for Gender, Alicia Herbert, on why this matters for women, their families, their communities and their countries below.

Development and climate change
Small Island Developing States

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face unique economic problems which constrain their ability to adapt to climate change – indeed, two of them are likely to disappear under rising oceans this century.

Small Island Developing States – Improving Finance for Resilience by 2024 brought together SIDS, development partners and multilateral leaders, to discuss options for improved support. It helped build consensus on improved access to finance for the most vulnerable states as part of the journey towards the 2024 SIDS Summit.

Loss and damage: how transformational?

Our report on the COP27 loss and damage funding agreement is now available.

Read now
Diplomacy and geopolitics
British German Forum

The 2023 Wilton Park British German Forum in July invites future leaders from both countries to engage in new dialogues and, as members of a growing alumni network, to build partnerships for future collaboration. Participants will consider opportunities for future collaboration in security challenges, energy security and information challenges.

Preventing sexual violence

Our work to support the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) continues.

Following a Survivor-led Retreat which explored ways to inform and improve policy-making as it affects survivors, we brought together an expert forum with civil society, survivors, academics and governments to discuss prospects for strengthening the draft Crimes Against Humanity Convention (CAHC) in terms of gender equality and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV). The conference was timed to inform the UN 6th Committee negotiations in April 2023.

Five Partners in a Competitive Age

In 2023, the Five Eyes group (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and US) finds itself at a pivotal moment, with evolution beyond its traditional intelligence role and changes to the geopolitical order raising significant questions over the long-term form and focus of the group, necessitating fresh thinking.

Five Partners in a Competitive Age: The Evolving Geostrategic Landscape in October brings together officials and leading intellectuals to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for the Five Eyes given the new geostrategic reality. The first in a series will examine the prospects for deeper and more coherent strategic collaboration across geostrategic issues impacting the five countries’ interests.

The time to act is now

Wilton Park’s Senior Policy Officer, Kristina Henly, analyses the IPCC synthesis report and the importance of climate diplomacy.

Read the blog
Economy and trade

International trade is facing a host of emerging issues including climate change and rising competition amongst countries and sectors.

Wilton Park recently hosted an event for representatives of more than 30 countries to discuss challenges and opportunities for global trade.  The dialogue considered how countries can mitigate current risks, while identifying and promoting pathways for prosperity.

Looking ahead
HMG Futures

The Integrated Review Refresh describes a competitive future in which many of the challenges are shared, and the lines between outward and domestic are increasingly blurred.

Across states, companies and societies, what will power look like and what capabilities will enable influence?

HMG Futures – identifying capabilities now to win future influence, this year’s annual Wilton Park Futures event, in November, will examine power across military strength, diplomacy, science and technology and economics in the future. Looking out to 2040, to possible futures beyond the focus of most strategies and planning, participants will identify the capabilities that states, companies and societies most need to exert influence and the actions needed now to preserve existing and build new capabilities.

A person raising their hand at a Wilton Park event

Upcoming events

We bring together the right people at the right time for dialogues which have impact.

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