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Strengthening democracy

June update from Wilton Park CEO Tom Cargill


Strengthening democracy has been at the heart of Wilton Park’s mission since our creation in 1946 as an initiative to help build a peaceful and democratic Germany.

Our founder, the British-German Sir Heinz Koeppler, passionately believed that earnest but respectful engagement with people whose views differ from our own is at the core of democracy.

That culture of respectful disagreement is something many democratic societies are now struggling to renew, as we face a resurgence of abhorrent beliefs and the atomisation of societies, exacerbated by the manipulation of communities through tools including social media.

It is worth recognising that, with important exceptions, the UK has been incredibly fortunate to emerge with the degree of coherence, civility and stability it has maintained. Whatever the results of the upcoming general election, we can be confident that this is unlikely to change.

No democracy is perfect, but the act of voting for our chosen candidate is a vital personal and collective statement. It signals our commitment to a culture whose population is free to disagree, even as we continue to live with and value each other. The more of us who choose to vote, the more securely the UK is positioned to weather whatever the volatile international climate may throw at us, whoever wins on 4 July.

Upcoming events

Preparing for success at the fifth review conference of the mine ban treaty

In November, the states party to the international treaty banning landmines will convene in Geneva for its Fifth Review Conference, under the Presidency of Cambodia.

As part of our long-running work in support of the treaty and its goals, we are organising a conference to advance the prospects for a successful outcome in November. The Cambodian national authorities and ISU will be able to draw on the Report of proceedings when developing the RevCon agenda.

Find out more

Wilton Park programme director Julia Purcell speaks at the conference table

A farewell to Wilton Park

‘I’ve seen diplomatic bumps smoothed out, unlikely alliances formed, seemingly intractable problems unpicked and solutions emerge.’ This month, we said goodbye to the brilliant Julia Purcell who has retired after 19 years of dedicated policy facilitation here at Wilton Park.

Read Julia’s blog

Recent events

Knowledge diplomacy

Last week we looked at Knowledge Diplomacy and the role of international higher education in a new geopolitical era.

We brought together experts and practitioners to look at the current challenges and opportunities, and how universities, industry and governments may work closer together in meeting the geopolitical challenges. How do leaders across sectors work together in an era of geopolitical change and to what extent are the various actors involved aligned? What are the different contexts around the globe, and how does this impact future collaboration?

In partnership with the University of Nottingham, University of London and University of Glasgow, and UUKi, UKRI and Russell Group.

Find out more


Climate and Development Ministerial technical experts: Programmatic, accessible and scaled adaptation finance for LDCs and SIDS

The Climate and Development Ministerial (C&DM) process was initiated in 2021 by the UK as COP26 President Delegate, providing a forum to unite and support climate and development ministers in finding solutions to address the priorities of climate-vulnerable countries.

This was followed in 2023 by the launch of the Coalition of Ambition on Adaptation Finance at COP28 which includes a vision, three goals and proposed priority actions. The Coalition is endorsed by thirteen countries and institutions which have committed to work together to drive forward progress and report back at the 2024 C&DM.

This dialogue brought together policymakers and technical experts from a range of donor governments, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and financial institutions to implement the vision, goals and priority actions agreed upon through the C&DM process, ahead of the C&DM meeting later this year.

The workshop considered best practice and priority actions in delivering programmatic financing and integrating long-term approaches to climate adaptation across sectors and with communities; and enabled those working on private sector finance for adaptation to consider practical steps to increase adaptation finance.

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Addressing the rise in global hatred on the basis of religion or belief

Last month we heard about the unprecedented rise in global hate that has followed the hostilities in Israel and Gaza, with the recent surge in antisemitic and anti-Muslim crime and hate speech in Europe and around the world.

Such examples of global hate take hold through the process of ‘othering’, where people who are different are not seen as humans, a process driven by nationalism, populism, ignorance, opportunity and impunity.

How to challenge that process and build a different narrative showing the benefits of inclusion and acceptance of the other was at the heart of this discussion, with participants and experts from Pakistan to Ghana to Uzbekistan bringing to Wilton Park examples from their own communities of how to deal with hatred on the basis of religion or belief.

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Strengthening deterrence: re-invigorating strategic thinking across the Alliance

In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, NATO’s summit in June 2022 committed the Alliance to enhancing its deterrent strategy in the new strategic environment in which nuclear threats played an enhanced role.

As part of this, the Four Square Deterrence study was established, comprised of a series of wargames, modelling and simulation, and research. This month we convened our conference in partnership with NATO ACT to support and advance the research and analysis portion of the study.

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Image shows three people walking and carrying wash kits and large buckets.

Latest reports

Read our latest reports, on building climate resilience in fragile and conflict-affected situations, and the outlook for East Africa to 2030.

Read the reports

Latest videos

Disability rights

Participants discuss how women and girls can act as agents of change, how persons with psychosocial disabilities need to be included in discussions and believed as experts of their own experiences, and how centering persons with disabilities whilst working collaboratively can create inclusive societies.

Looking ahead

Conflict trauma and youth: exploring approaches for recovery and conflict prevention in the Middle East and North Africa

All children involved in armed conflict are victims.  Regardless of their community’s status within the conflict, children and young people emerging from conflict settings bear significant costs in terms of their development, education, and physical and mental health.  In particular, the psychological effects of conflict on young people may persist throughout their lives, and potentially manifest in future engagement in conflict, perpetuating ‘cycles of violence’.

In July, Wilton Park will gather a collection of experts, practitioners and policy-makers to examine what research tells us about the relationship between conflict trauma and cycles of violence across the Middle East and North Africa.  In doing so, we hope to develop new approaches to interventions which steer young people away from conflict and towards peaceful behaviours.  This event will be run in conjunction with the FCDO and the Cross-Border Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research group based at King’s College London.

View all events


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