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Escaping the grip of history

November 2023 update from Wilton Park Chief Executive, Tom Cargill.

Palestinians evacuate after air strike

It is tempting to treat renewed Russian aggression in Europe and the crisis in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, with grim historical familiarity.

Yet the world in which they are taking place is transforming fast, and the nature of the global response reflects this rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

In different ways, these crises remind us both of the importance of history, and also the risks of a fatalistic retreat into historical pessimism.

The emergence of India as a global power is a good example of how changing power dynamics are redefining the opportunities for and constraints upon international diplomacy.

For countries such as the UK, Indian perspectives are a major issue to consider. Yet even beyond India, there are a host of countries around the world now which are more strategic actors. The considered way in which many Arab countries have responded to the crisis in their midst has been notable for instance.

At Wilton Park we are focused on ensuring strong and respectful engagement with these increasingly important states around the world for both UK and global benefit.

How a billion people see the world

Earlier this month, we were pleased to partner with the High Commission of India in London to host External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar for a conversation on how India sees the world. Discussions focused on India’s foreign policy and perspectives on world affairs.

The conversation, which was part of the Friends of Wilton Park series, was the final engagement of Dr Jaishankar’s visit to the UK. We hope to support more work on how the UK and India partner on shared priorities over the coming years.

Expanding the breadth of our expertise

Wilton Park is proud to support the UK’s international priorities and to flex to support our sponsor department whenever we can. That’s why we’re pleased that Neil Briscoe, Wilton Park’s Head of Policy has taken on a temporary appointment to support overseeing His Majesty’s Government’s humanitarian response to the Gaza crisis.

We’re delighted to welcome Chigo Mtegha-Gelders, who will provide temporary cover as our Head of Policy.

Chigo joins us from the FCDO Strategy Directorate and brings a wealth of experience which will support our continued engagement and support for teams across Whitehall and internationally.

Please do connect with Chigo and discuss with her how Wilton Park can help you to address your key policy challenges.

We’re also delighted to have recently welcomed Elizabeth Donnelly and Sam Godsland. Both have extensive experience across a broad range of areas.
Sam will bring additional expertise to our work on counter-terrorism, China, and the Indo-Pacific region, whilst Lizzy will lead our work focusing on a wide range of issues in and connected to Africa.

These hires reflect our deepening expertise and growing capacity to support our partners across the full range of critical issues they face and regions they need to navigate.

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Wilton Park is a proven asset for global foreign policy development, providing a high-impact and flexible way to advance thinking and policy on key issues.

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Development and climate change
Addressing violence in and through education

One billion children – up to half of the world’s children aged 2-17 years’ old – experience violence globally. This violence takes place en route to schools, and at schools, and is perpetrated by teachers, school staff and other students.

How to tackle that violence is the focus of our January event ‘Addressing violence in and through education’. It’s the latest in our series of events at Wilton Park supporting the FCDO International Women and Girls Strategy and global campaign – Rights, Freedom, Potential.

Latest reports

Wilton Park is a proven asset for global foreign policy development, providing a high-impact and flexible way to advance thinking and policy on key issues.

Read the latest reports from Wilton Park
NPT diplomacy towards the 2026 Review Conference

The 2023 iteration of this annual conference at Wilton Park will assess diplomatic, political and strategic challenges for the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, and to support NPT diplomacy in the wake of the 2022 NPT Review Conference, looking towards the new Review cycle.

Under discussion will be nuclear salience and extended deterrence, Iran’s nuclear programme, nuclear risk reduction, how to plan for success during the Review cycle, future options for disarmament diplomacy.

Future space threats

Our use of outer space has transformed the way the world works and how states relate to each other. But this is just the beginning.

There is a new race to secure the economic and strategic benefits of the exploration and use of the moon, future capabilities on-orbit around Earth have potential offensive and defensive uses, while strategic competition is intensifying. How will these three trends shape the future threat environment? What potential threats might emerge from strategic competition? What can the international community do about it?

This event in February 2024 will convene a breadth of participants to build relationships, share perspectives and explore long-term thinking to inform the right decisions now to start to mitigate potential future space threats. In partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Future War, Strategy and Technology

Watch experts including Sir Lawrence Freedman, Camille Grand and Becca Wasser discuss the impacts of new technologies on conflict, the ways that technology can impact doctrine and capability, and the ethics of conflict in an era of rapid technological change.

Looking ahead
Overcoming challenges to universal human rights: developing prospects for new alliances?

Seventy five years on from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), our 2024 Human Rights conference will focus on ways to combat challenges to the fundamental principles of human rights.

The UDHR set out clear foundational principles for an international human rights system, the architecture of which has subsequently been developed through a range of instruments both internationally and nationally, progressed amidst an evolving global landscape.

However, human rights violations persist and the human rights system is under pressure. We are seeing increasingly robust actions by autocratic regimes, attacks on democratic institutions, and states previously relied upon to uphold multi-lateral systems threatening to withdraw from some aspects of the international order. Amidst these atmospherics, the universality of human rights is being questioned, with some states articulating a view of state sovereignty which undermines fundamental human rights principles and seeks to avoid accountability for violations of human rights. Civic space is shrinking, human rights defenders are being targeted and the rights of women, indigenous peoples, minority groups and others in vulnerable situations are under attack.

In the context of this rollback, and grounding discussion in the practical experience of those directly impacted by human rights violations, the conference aims to: explore tactics and strategies being deployed by those seeking to recast their obligations in multi-lateral fora, across different sectors; re-energise, broaden and deepen alliances amongst key actors engaged in defending, promoting and safeguarding human rights; and identify commonalities, share successful strategies and develop prospects for new alliances.

The conference, funded by the Governments of Switzerland and Finland is the 18th in the annual series.

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