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Summer – the time to reflect, reset and recharge?

Tom Cargill

Since the start of the year, Wilton Park has been operating at full speed to make up for lost opportunities during lock-downs.

While we will continue to host events in July and August, the pace inevitably slackens and provides us an important opportunity to reflect and plan. This is particularly important now, as the challenges and change abroad in the world are mounting.

A far-sighted initiative of Winston Churchill, Wilton Park was originally founded against the backdrop of global instability and conflict to prepare Europe and the world for the challenges of building peace, prosperity and democracy after World War 2. Wilton Park has served this objective faithfully for over 75 years, and at times has even been called a ‘parallel United Nations’ for providing an objective and neutral space for global interests to discretely come together and address their common challenges in the spirit of reason and respect.

Now Russian aggression towards Ukraine, the implications of the economic downturn occasioned by COVID-19, the resulting supply chain issues impacting the world, all on top of the growing climate crisis, have resulted in renewed and growing conflict and instability across Europe and increasingly the world.

So over the next few weeks we at Wilton Park, alongside our key supporters in the UK and beyond, will be discussing how to rebase and refresh our role mobilising global networks of influence to find practical solutions to our big common challenges. Some of our methods of doing so may evolve over coming months and years, but the values we bring to our work will remain true to our roots – a belief in the power of respectful dialogue, objectivity, and quiet diplomacy, to change the world for the better.

What’s happening now at Wilton Park

With the best of a British summer finally upon us, this month we will take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from recent weeks and give you a flavour of our plans for forthcoming discussions.

According to Wilton Park mythology, July and August are quieter months, giving us a moment to reset and recharge our ‘soular’ batteries for the busy months ahead. In reality we are still running hot, busy with a range of policy discussions and in full swing planning for September onwards.

It’s also good to see so many of our long-standing commercial partners returning to Wilton Park for in person discussions.

Breaks between discussions are a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful gardens of Wiston House or fit in an early morning walk up to Chanctonbury Ring.

The Platinum Jubiliee Cookbook

“Good food is key to diplomacy: it helps smooth the path to the resolution of conflict.”

The reputation of our rich policy discussions is consistently supported by the quality of our fabulous cuisine. What better moment than these hazy days of summer to pay tribute to our superb chefs who consistently energise our conferences through their fantastic food?

We were thrilled to see their legendary recipe for traditional sweet scones feature in the Platinum Jubilee Cookbook authored by Ameer Kotecha.

But what comes first – jam or cream?


Young leaders at the Northern Ireland Youth Action Centenary Programme event
Taken at the Northern Ireland Youth Action Centenary Programme event

In June we held a much awaited and COVID postponed conference on A more confident and inclusive Northern Ireland held in partnership with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

It reflected on Northern Ireland’s first century, marked by conflict, change and peacebuilding, and looked forward to next year’s 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a watershed moment in ending the period of the Troubles.

So how to recover the vision and hope of that Agreement? What needs to change and how can progress be made? As one participant said, ‘Our greatest obligation as human beings is to be good ancestors. We need to ask how history will remember us.’

Look out for the report from the meeting on our website, coming soon.

In 2013, the Marsh Charitable Trust, in association with Wilton Park, created the Marsh Awards to recognise individuals from outside the UK whose work makes the most impact on others and innovative difference to peacemaking and peacekeeping.

The Award can be presented to a journalist, advocacy group, or any other practitioner in the field working in a conflict or post-conflict region. We have the privilege to have an amazingly diverse and extraordinary alumni of winners, runner-ups and nominees from across the world, all focused on one thing: bringing peace to their communities.

This week, we presented the Marsh Awards to three incredible women:

Rosa Emilia Salamanca, Director of the Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económia (CIASE), works in Colombia on women’s rights, strengthening public policy and educating others on the peace process.

Maria Abbas is the founder of Fada, an organisation located in Syria which works with young people to help them know their roles, rights and duties to contribute to the process of peacebuilding in the country.

Massa Almoussely has founded an organisation called the ASAS Foundation. She works on engaging locals and architects in planning the reconstruction of their cities, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and different neighbourhoods to discuss, talk and create common ground.

Read more about the winners
Earth as an apple

Since early 2020, Wilton Park, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and partners have been hosting a series of dialogues under the theme of Healthy Societies. The series has provided space for different groups and individuals with common interests to come together and explore what is required to achieve healthy societies and advance human flourishing.

In June, we held a final convening, bringing together decision makers and influencers from across public and private sectors and civil society to consider how this dynamic agenda can be taken forward. While the challenges are complex and myriad, participants left with a sense of purpose and drive to take this agenda forward.

As one participant remarked, “Everyone is passionate for change, real transformation – not just doing more of the same.”

In November 2021, Wilton Park, in partnership with GBCHealth, Malaria No More, the Health Finance Coalition and Amref Health Africa, started a series of interactive dialogues aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges to mobilising Private capital to accelerate public health goals in Africa.

In June we held the final dialogue at Wiston House with participants considering strategically yet practically how private and public capital can be more effectively mobilised to scale high-impact health ventures in Africa. The dialogue sought to strengthen networks and forge new partnerships, with a new masterclass initiative to support promising African entrepreneurs announced on the final day.


Flag of Germany and the Union Jack

The British German Forum, throughout its 37-year history, has been deepening bilateral relations between Britain and Germany, by inviting future leaders from both countries to engage in new dialogues and build partnerships.

The 2022 British German Forum took the UK-Germany Joint Declaration, the German election and coalition agreement, and the COVID pandemic as starting points from which to look further ahead and explore three areas: transforming economies to adapt societies to climate change, learning from the COVID pandemic and practicing foreign policy based on ideas, causes and values.

At the end of the month, we hosted a conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and the SDG agendas.

It produced a set of recommendations for Fiona Bruce, the UK Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, to take to the first International Ministerial Conference on FoRB hosted by the UK Government in London in early July.

Fiona Bruce, UK Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, at Wilton Park explaining the link between FoRB and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Anti-sateillite image
Artist’s impression

Combined Space Operations
Wilton Park has held a series of international events with the diplomatic community, focusing on behaviours in space as the foundation for the transparency and cooperation necessary to make space safe, secure and sustainable for all nations.

There is now an opportunity to expand this conversation to the national security community, given that many nations have a growing interest in space operations, realising the importance space has on national security, resilience and global stability.

In the Autumn we will be running Adapting Strategic Stability for the Modern Age.

Considering strategic stability for the modern security environment, the future risks and challenges to strategic stability, and how we can work together to develop measures that will manage the risks of instability and find common ground to do so.

The report from our recent conference, Strengthening the international response to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) is now available.

In the lead up to the UK hosted international Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI) conference on 28-30 November 2022 and ten years from the PSVI launch at Wilton Park, the conference considered which responses have worked well, areas of shortfall and what more is needed to build international momentum, ensuring that survivor insights and needs are central to action. 


Following on from its 2021 launch, last week’s SussExport event showcased the very best of Sussex export business, welcoming the local community’s contribution to the UK’s economic agenda.

We brought Ministers, business leaders and trade ambassadors together to share stories on what it takes to deliver Sussex-made products into the global marketplace.

It was a great day to celebrate the best that Sussex produces and meet with ministers, ambassadors and trade experts to explore how to take these products to international markets.

We’re already looking ahead – the third SussExport will take place on Friday 7 July 2023.

Looking ahead

In support of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, we are currently developing a conference, Building a shared agenda on the evidence base for Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse.

In the lead up to the Summit for Democracy, this invitation only event will bring together a cross section of stakeholders including policy makers, international and regional bodies, technical data and policy experts, and researchers from government, academia, civil society and industry.

Together, they will explore the issue of establishing reliable, comparable global and regional data on the prevalence of gender-based online harassment and abuse and its effects. The conference was developed from last year’s virtual meeting Tackling Online Gendered Harms.

View our upcoming events

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