13 June 2019 - 15 June 2019

Intervention in other states: do we still believe we can intervene for good?

Chair: Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC


View event album here

Executive summary

Context and why this was important

The perceived failures of long wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and continued chaos in Libya continue to cast a long shadow over the confidence of states in decisive intervention. Paralysis in the UN Security Council over Syria has had devastating consequences. We explored what it means today to intervene for good.


Chaired by Professor The Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC, former foreign minister of Australia, this conference brought together experienced figures from diplomacy and those who framed Responsibility to Protect (R2P). There was representation from NGOs and think tanks, specialists in international law and academic researchers on global institutions and conflict, as well as war reporters and foreign policy journalists, and personnel from the military and national security. We lacked, sadly, voices with direct experience of being at the receiving end of intervention.


‘Do we still believe we can intervene for good?’ Most felt that intervention remained an essential tool in international order. But, in a more interconnected and interdependent world, ‘intervention for good’ is harder to define; it is also more complicated to do. The two – clarity of concept and how to do it in practice – are bound together.

The theoretical, legal and moral basis for intervention established by western powers (and set out in the multilateral institutions established post-war) has done much to shape the world over the last 70 years. But, over recent years, justification for intervention and the capabilities to do it have become increasingly difficult to establish. Cohesion within multilateral institutions is under strain and competing geopolitical power and technological change have pushed the post-war framework out of shape. New arenas for intervention – both benign and malign – have opened up through technology.

The geopolitical context included a return to great power competition, a resurgence of protectionism and nationalism, risks to trade and a proliferation of non-state actors (not just terrorist groups, but corporations and regional economic blocs) all of which put pressure on international law. The UN itself was described as caught in a growing crisis of legitimacy and internal disagreement against a backdrop of an erosion of democracy and citizen confidence (in democratic states). Additional factors were growing inequality, the effects of rapid technological change and new realities on the ground, such as the mass displacement of peoples and migration driven by environmental disaster and conflict and the growing number of failed states.

The definition of intervention in these new conditions was becoming so wide that it was impossible to draw general conclusions. Had we come to a point at which a series of different frames of reference were required? Discussion of UN practice and procedure was frequently derailed by reminders of real-world change.

On the other hand, evidence was offered to show that, despite the complexity and confusion, interventions since the Cold War had, on balance, contributed to periods of sustained peace in a majority of cases. It was argued that the UN, whilst flawed and often paralysed, was still the best mechanism the world had to mediate breaches of international law; to halt mass atrocities; to respond to natural disaster; or to restore order post-conflict or crisis. Many participants argued for the updating of earlier approaches to intervention and that the UN model, temporarily in abeyance, could somehow be kick-started and made to work again.

Others saw a world in which the source of legitimacy for international action, as derived from a majority of like-minded states, had gone. Authority and legitimacy to act was weakened. Instead, new opportunities had to be sought which would include different kinds of coalitions of states and non-state actors (regional blocs) and uses of technology to communicate directly with people caught in conflict or crises. Action would draw on a much broader and more complex palette of non-military intervention including work with civil societies, regional organisations and NGOs.

A messy and complex multi-track process looked most likely for the immediate future, in which persistence with existing institutions and the UN route was combined with some of these new coalitions, new international norms and a greater focus on resilience and defensive strategies.

The current situation in Yemen and Iran revealed the continued failure of orthodox approaches to intervention and an urgent need for review.

We mostly agreed that the world’s democracies had a particular responsibility to protect human rights. But there was an acceptance of the need for humility in both defining clear purpose and making sure of capability and commitment to deliver. The value of democracy promotion was challenged – is it a no-longer practicable 20th-century battle that now only serves to confuse objectives?



Chaired by Professor The Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC, former foreign minister of Australia, this conference brought together key figures in debates about intervention, including leading figures from diplomacy and those who framed Responsibility to Protect (R2P). There was representation from NGOs and think tanks, specialists in international law and academic researchers on global institutions and conflict, as well as war reporters and foreign policy journalists, and personnel from the military, and from the US, UK and Canadian governments. There was some, but not enough, representation from China and Russia. The conference included very few voices with direct experience of being at the receiving end of intervention and would have benefited from more European, Middle Eastern and African perspectives.

 Context and why this was important

The perceived failures of long wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and continued chaos in Libya continue to cast a long shadow over the confidence of states to intervene in other states in a decisive way, even for legally and morally defensible purposes. Justifying the legitimacy of intervention has become complex, and non-military options are not well understood. There is a lack of consensus over the effectiveness of sanctions. Paralysis in the UN Security Council over Syria has had devastating consequences. Russian cyber attacks, disinformation operations and semi-covert attacks on figures seen as traitors are very different kinds of interventions.

We looked in particular at whether democratic states have a particular role or responsibility in making interventions where there has been a manifest breach of the UN Charter or other clear rules of international law. Examples where this might be the case included where there is a fear of states acquiring nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction with aggressive intent; where states have perpetrated or failed to stop mass atrocities; or where a state has failed to respond to a natural disaster causing mass death and human misery.


The definition of intervention for the purposes of this discussion was any kind of action taken against a state or its leaders without their consent. On the question of action by whom, for some participants the assumption remained some form of ‘international community’ or coalition of states. But the increase in covert counter-terrorism actions, ambiguous warfare and the use of local allies and proxies, other participants argued, made it hard to separate out examples of pure humanitarian intervention for good by an ‘international community’. From this perspective, intervention had become firmly part of widespread geopolitical competition.

The conference started with a recap of recent interventions that had gone wrong – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria – and asked the questions, What does it mean to intervene for good? Is there still an appetite for it? When is it defensible? How is it effectively conducted? And, how do we defend ourselves against bad interventions? How do we get beyond the damage to credibility done by the hubris of previous military interventions?

The UN Security Council and Charter provided a limited framework for legal action. Under Chapter 1 article 2(7), the UN is not permitted to intervene in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any state. But Article 2(4) states that the prohibition of the threat or use of force, and Article 51, give the right to self-defence, including use of pre-emptive and preventative measures. Despite or because of this complex architecture, UN legitimacy is contested. Humanitarian intervention does not have a consistent legal basis.

UN Security Council paralysis and political rift was noted as the basic current condition and there was some regret over past missed opportunities to reform the veto system. In this context, regional organisations, particularly the African Union, have come to play more prominent roles, as in the case of South Sudan. Small regional organisations such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States also play increasingly significant roles such as in relation to Grenada.


We debated what makes an intervention legitimate, both when sponsored by the UN and when carried out separately. A strong case was made for framing discussion of intervention through the lens of a fundamental principle of saving lives.

‘Intervention’, it was argued, must not default to military intervention. Military force without political intervention rarely helps. There was, for many, a need to develop a much wider range of drivers and solutions. This might include an agenda on equality, lessons from past efforts of de-colonialisation and the framework offered by the Sustainable Development Goals. In other words, there should be more effort made earlier on the causes of crises rather than interventions once they had occurred.

We were challenged several times with: ‘How many genocides will we sit out?’ If like-minded states do not take on the burden, will Russia or China? Then there was the question of whether interventions, once decided upon, can be successfully executed and deliver good outcomes or, at the very least, do no harm.

Divisions in the UNSC undermined the prospect of legitimacy being derived from UN resolutions. Given the tension between the P5, it was becoming harder and harder to find issues that could be separated from national interests to allow concerted action. This meant a crisis of inaction which the passing of anodyne UNSC resolutions did not address.

Paralysis in the Security Council also stemmed from states’ uncertainty and irresolution on defining and protecting their fundamental interests and values. Security Council red lines had been crossed without consequence – the use of chemical weapons in Syria a frequently referenced example.

A stark juxtaposition between capabilities of modern-day communication, which allow direct contact with people in areas of conflict and crises, and the practice of the UN Security Council to rely on NGOs to represent people on the ground, was telling. The Security Council, it was argued, rarely talked directly to the people affected. Could there be unmediated access? How might this be put in place? Is it legitimate to rely on second-hand accounts by NGOs, especially in situations where there were few or no journalists on the ground? Does legitimacy for intervention require some direct engagement with populations on the ground? Should people be given a voice to define end states? Is there much greater scope for open source intelligence? How can the Security Council determine the truth and act upon it when the facts themselves are politically contested by P5 states?

It was asked for whom legitimacy’ was required when action was taken? Was it for the leaders of coalition states? The publics within those states? Publics world-wide or the publics on the ground in the area of intervention?

Legitimacy and capacity to act

Legitimacy ties together the right and capacity to act. Collective action increases both legitimacy and power. The protection of civilians was put forward as a basis for legitimacy and a principle for a new global consensus. The need to end suffering is morally and legally understandable. But legitimacy had to be matched with capacity to act – if the capacity to act is insufficient, then both legitimacy and credibility of action are undermined.

The involvement of regional organisations and cohesion at a regional level contributes to legitimacy. The work of the African Union in Sudan, for example, was said to be more significant than that of the Security Council which, in turn, is less likely to see use of the veto in the face of regional consensus. But there are also risks of pushing action down into the field where capabilities are not well matched, or of using a lack of regional capability as an excuse for inaction.

A radical challenge was made of ‘the state’ as the primary locus of legitimacy and the fundamental building block of international order. A number of states benefitted from local insecurity in order to claim authority and international support. The rising role of non-state actors and terrorism was part of the wider picture of a hybrid, destabilized world and weakened international system. Non-state actors were taking on some of the attributes of states and imposing sanctions and boycotts.

Even within the established system of states, national interest and sovereignty were now seen by some states as being in sharp tension with international responsibility and pooled sovereignty. Intervention is arguably the ultimate expression of international responsibility and not one that many governments appear to want any more. There was no consensus on whether the focus for intervention should be people, nations, regions or even wider?

Some participants had given up completely on the UN. For others, the institution and its concepts retained value and it would be a grave mistake to give up on the aspiration of a rules-based order. The UN was the best framework and institution available, flawed though it was. There was a need for generally accepted new norms, i.e. ‘don’t kill civilians’, as the way to build the consensus needed to support wider legitimacy.

There were some insights into what modern intervention could mean and exploration of how the older world order of states could engage with new non-state actors. Engagement with the tech sector was seen as an important way forward. Denmark for example, had appointed an Ambassador to Silicon Valley to engage the global tech industry and the major platforms in new forms of diplomacy. Support for civil society, concepts of resilience, use of international sport – all were part of a modern toolbox for effective intervention.

The toolbox for modern intervention

This too was a divided discussion. Intervention tended to default to narrow forms of punitive military action, which was seen as limited and outdated. But a much wider set of actions classed as ‘intervention’ challenged the integrity of the definition. Intervention was said to cover measures from political messaging (a growing and pervasive form of intervention) and action to support civilians, to major power co-ordination and steps taken above, beyond and alongside the UN. Did the language of intervention inevitably raise military action? Language was said to be important: replacing notions of ‘rights of humanitarian intervention’ with Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was seen as a successful shift and one widely accepted amongst UN member states.

Hybrid processes were possible in which bilateral action could operate alongside the UN. Major powers such as China could work both with the UN (contributing a very substantial peacekeeping force) and in bilateral arrangements with others, as in the case of the China/Africa summit. From the Chinese perspective, the UN was considered hegemonic. The multilateral system was described as an encroachment on others. The agenda of the last 70 years had not fully engaged Russia or China. The current permanent Security Council membership excluded Africa and Latin America. In fact, most of the global population was not sufficiently represented.

Was there a more practical and less ambitious way to approach intervention – a case for constraining the definition to create a workable framework in which to assess the actors, purpose, practice, resource and platform? Big interventions had not worked: should the approach be to take smaller, more realistic steps? Could great powers co-ordinate and work both independently from the UN and as part of it? Should a more realistic sense of what is possible internationally also constrain our objectives? Don’t aim for democracy, we were urged, aim for peace or the limitation of violence instead, as a more widely acceptable goal.

The institutional architecture of the UN was said to offer a much wider range of instruments than is currently used and understood as intervention. These range from evidence collection (Human Rights Council), Universal Periodic Review, Social Rapporteurs, calls for briefings and use of political missions. These were considered forms of response in the overlap between the Security Council, peacebuilding and the organisations of the UN. Use of technology and analytics to detect, for example, critical rises in levels of hate speech were seen as promising means to drive small-scale interventions before big interventions become necessary in response to critical situations.

The call was to be creative, to take multiple actions at the same time but with clarity over objectives. There was concern that those working in governments and international institutions did not understand the range of options available and how they might be sequenced, run in tandem or combined. There was some good academic research of direct practical value in helping to differentiate between victims and perpetrators.  

NGO perspectives emphasized longer-term commitment, based on building local teams and networks to create trust and to support shifts in local institutions and social norms, for example in police practice. The role of NGOs is evolving from one of exposing abuses to engaging and building up capacities that enhance stability. This might require some flexibility on whom NGOs should engage, for example including some groups labelled as terrorists. All in all, this amounted to a call for a longer-term approach, based on peace building rather than short term intervention.

In practice: cross-borders, within states and defensive strategies

The three working group discussions focused on interventions in cross-border situations; in single-state situations; and explored defensive strategies.

Cross-border: legitimate – but think much harder about tools

The macro-environment has made intervention in other states harder. Great power competition and an increased role for malign non-state actors have added complexity. Technology has created new arenas for state and non-state action, both positive and negative. But the cost of inaction and unintended consequences was also stressed. Legitimacy is the toughest nut to crack.

Even within this context, a framework for legitimacy is possible. This should take account of the nature of the organisation or institution taking action; the scale of action taken; its sphere of operation (neighbouring countries, regions, collective outer area); and with whom – unilateral, a coalition (with support from publics or state-level actors within the state being intervened in); and, critically, the trigger (classic aggression, harbouring terrorism, crimes against humanity, WMD chemical/nuclear threats, cyber threats).

The 5 criteria developed in 2005 for intervention were considered to be still relevant.

Seriousness of threat: is the threatened harm to state or human security of a kind, and sufficiently clear and serious, to prima facie justify the use of military force?

Proper purpose: is it clear that the primary purpose of the proposed military action is to halt or avert the threat in question, whatever other purposes or motives may be involved?

Last resort: has every non-military option for meeting the threat in question been considered, with reasonable grounds for believing lesser measures will not succeed?

Proportional means: is the scale, duration and intensity of the proposed military action the minimum necessary to meet the threat in question?

Balance of consequences: is there a reasonable chance of the military action being successful in meeting the threat in question, with the consequences of action not likely to be worse than the consequences of inaction?

Reference: Gareth Evans (2004) When is it Right to Fight? Survival, 46:3, 59-81, DOI: 10.1080/00396330412331343733

In this context, intervention is usually the result of a failure of pre-emptive action and generally assumed to be in some way punitive. There are opportunities to think harder about positive and negative incentives.

A number of categories of intervention were identified: political and diplomatic; treaty bodies; economic and asset seizures; arts and sports; combined versus single actions; covert action short of military action; and finally, kinetic military action. But this should not be seen as a sequential ladder. The capacity to combine and to adapt different types of action was crucial.

More emphasis could be given to tools that elicited positive behavior rather than punishing negative actions. Technology allowed different kinds of interaction with governments and for crowd sourcing of information and action. Technology could also allow more precise targeting of action against individuals and organisations committing abuses.

Single state: to stop human rights abuses

In this context, the fundamental objective would be to stop widespread human rights abuses within a state by state or non-state actors. There was general (but not complete) agreement on the case for intervention. A policy of indifference in the face of mass atrocities was seen by most as indefensible.

Tools are not sequential but must be logical, up to and including use of force. More emphasis must be given to activities post-force and to prevention of recurrence (such as facilitating accountability, rebuilding, peacebuilding and reconciliation). Intervention is a combination of approaches to peacekeeping, Protection of Civilians (PoC) and R2P, as in instances in Mali, DRC and South Sudan. There were good examples where past interventions had worked and these deserved more prominence in discussion of intervention alongside the negative examples more often cited. There are people alive today who would not be if these measures had not been used.

There were examples of where action had gone wrong but that indicate ways around current impasses. The case of Myanmar and the approach to the Rohingya in Rakhine State, was, in the UN’s own assessment, dysfunctional. But action taken also pointed to ways around dysfunction, for example bilateral action, targeted sanctions, accountability and use of the International Criminal Court, and action taken under the auspices of SDG 16 ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’ and its targets.

The case of Venezuela points to roles for regional organisations. The choice is not between global, regional, multilateral and bilateral action – all four can be useful in the right context and combination.

The call was for both clarity of objective and a complex approach to tools – a difficult combination to master. Tools have to be tailored to the situation. They can work in different ways in different places and conditions. Greater knowledge and understanding of people on the ground and the ways they can change is necessary. Understanding the psychology of the situations is important.

General problems were highlighted – the loss of imagination, an internalisation of past failures, lack of leadership and political will and a lack of knowledge. There was potential to work in the cracks between great powers, to continue to build and defend norms and to show that, post-war, much intervention has broadly worked. (Reference: Outcome and Input Data for 26 Post-WWII and Post-Cold War Interventions (Rand Corporation), accessible via the link at the bottom of this report).

Lessons from the past had not been learned well enough; there had not been enough assessment of the balance of consequences and there had been failures to explain and communicate with publics why interventions had been undertaken. Thorough assessment post-intervention against each of the 5 criteria (above) is essential. The question of staying- power and the need to follow on after interventions needed more attention (Responsibility while protecting). Peacebuilding is costly and grinding, and
stabilisation is often needed for extended periods. Lessons from past mass atrocities had not been well learned.  

Defensive: be strong and have friends

What defensive strategies are available to a state in response to illegal and immoral intervention by another state whether declared, undeclared or uncertain? The multilateral architecture of the UN, the definition of sovereignty, NATO’s Article 5 and the International Court of Justice, supported by values and universal principles, provide a defensive framework. But again, the discussion acknowledged that the institutions of the post-war order are facing challenges as new powers rise and others decline. The ways technology is effecting change in state and individual behavior is not yet well understood. How can norms be developed in relation to technology and will legitimacy for these rest with nation-states?

The position of China was considered to be evolving. China is asking reasonable questions about great power responsibility. But China also posed major challenges – what interventions are possible in relation to China’s actions in collecting information in the name of national security and in activities to secure commercial advantage? How do we encourage compliance with international norms?

Beyond military action, non-kinetic instruments to stop malign interventions were defined as a series of levels or steps.  

  • A first level is to increase resilience, cyber security and anti-corruption laws; efforts to close political fissures that could be exploited; and to strengthen democratic institutions.
  • Then there are measures in relation to particular audiences and options to persuade and influence the intervener to desist. This could include disclosing information and exposure, and attribution of malign covert actions.
  • Efforts to internationalise a crisis came next: turning to the multilateral institutions, such as the ICJ (as in the case of Nicaragua) or the UN (for the Palestinians) and use of the law to frame legitimacy and work with multi-stakeholder platforms, such as ICAN coalitions.
  • Measures to stop interventions would be ceasefires, agreements and negotiations.

Proportionality was particularly important: retaliation should be a proportionate response, not revenge.

The existing resilience and economy of democratic states is relevant to the success of defensive strategies in this technological age. Israel’s start-up community is well integrated with the state. Estonia has some advantages with its digital state and Taiwan has pursued diplomatic engagement. Strong social cohesion and high levels of education can make a difference. There is legitimacy to be derived from democratic processes and a free media. But there was concern over the resilience of democracy in an age of technological disruption. Democracies rely on the strength of institutions and processes. The fragility of the electoral process is a concern. The debate about struggles over truth raised questions about whether state sources of information could be strengthened, and whether citizens could be supported in discerning the quality of information. How might civil society be supported to be more robust?

Tellingly, the group found it hard to imagine being on the receiving end of high-level military intervention, including all out cyber attack and information warfare. Limited cyber attacks and misinformation campaigns were more familiar cases. There was concern over how to understand areas of vulnerability as potential targets and new kinds of interventions that ignore all precedents.

The special responsibilities of democracy

Do democratic states have a particular responsibility to intervene? The question was woven into all parts of the discussion. There was distinct caution in the answers. A slide into the promotion of democracy had arguably confused objectives in some past interventions and was not seen as practicable or wise in the geopolitical conditions now emerging. There was sensitivity to claims of special responsibility as paternalistic or neo-colonial. A sense of special responsibility had been, at times, cover for attempts to shape the world in a western image. And there were many moments when democratic principles had been put aside: post 9/11 for example, the US had disregarded its democratic norms in its use of coercive interrogation methods. But there had also been a strong altruistic instinct to stop terrible abuses and human suffering. There was much concern about unfolding failures in South Sudan and in Yemen and in continued sales of arms to these regions by Western companies.

A special role for democracies was linked to the value placed on individuals and to the moral obligation to protect civilians. The concept of individual freedom fundamentally underpinned democratic action. In WWII, civilian deaths were not considered in the same way as they are now. The huge number of civilian deaths (as a consequence of military actions) was to some extent accepted as the price of victory, but would not be explicitly or publicly tolerated today, either by citizens or by the majority of leaders.

Democracies were considered also to have some advantages in being able to adjust and adapt in a resilient way whereas authoritarian states can become rigid and brittle. Democracies have opportunities to build greater citizen- and community-based resilience at home, investing in education, and to use technology to communicate across the world. Democracies had to find ways to give voice to peoples to define the end-states of potential interventions, as well as sharing their own successful stories.

Both authoritarian and democratic systems face shared global problems of climate change, environmental damage and transnational movements, and of shaping new norms for technology. Would these provide routes to new kinds of international collaboration? China in particular is vulnerable to climate change impacts. There is potential for greater convergence between East and West. The current US position and political dysfunction was seen by some to be part of the problem whilst others saw pursuit of national interest as part of a wider global trend and, in fact, preferable and more predictable as a basis for international order.

Ideas but not consensus

Despite complexity and past failure, the concept of intervention remains current and an essential part of international order. The legal and institutional frameworks are, however, in trouble and need reshaping and reaffirming. Alongside terrible failures (the 2003 invasion of Iraq had consequences 16 years on), there have been achievements, especially over non-proliferation and prevention of carnage within states.

The UN, and especially the paralysis of the UNSC, has become part of the problem. Not everyone was convinced it could be transformed to become part of the solution again. The absence of legitimacy is the original sin of intervention, but legitimacy will also have to be sought in new ways by working around the edges of the UN, as well as re-investing in existing multinational frameworks.

The context has changed: what was possible in 1990/91, 2003 and 2011 is no longer. Geopolitical competition is different – nothing will stop intervention or military action by a great power if they believe they are threatened or if they want to use force to impose their will.

Any newly developed code of conduct to determine the legitimacy of intervention would have to be made with a much wider set of global participants. In the meantime, the existing criteria for military intervention must be strengthened by further emphasis of the need for:

  • Sustained support and long-term commitment (but not prolonged occupation);
  • Clarity and adherence to the agreed terms of intervention (too often there is a slide into regime change);
  • Diplomacy, political partnership, accurate information and knowledge (there is no excuse for lack of knowledge);
  • Better attention to the ways in which issues are framed (Are precedents relevant? Who wants what?) Attribution: Who’s doing what to whom?
  • The balance of consequences and the costs of inaction;
  • Use of digital tools to detect early an increase in hate speech and, in turn, the risk of atrocities. Better use of analytics could make for significant innovation;
  • Better assessment of effects of intervention, for example on the effects of sanctions measures;
  • More emphasis on actions after the use of force and the prevention of recurrence (rebuilding and reconciliation).

All responsible and internationally influential states need to build up a much more substantial menu of non-kinetic tools and how they can be used in combination and guided by a holistic framework. Sophistication of tools used must be combined with simple clarity of objectives.

Academic research is an underused resource. Systematic exchange between universities and the organisations and institutions of multilateralism would be beneficial, especially over questions of framing and understanding complex situations on the ground.

Political messaging requires much better understanding and more thoughtful practice.

There is an opportunity and need to re-think public diplomacy and to enlist tech companies and philanthropy to give voice to the people on the ground in crisis situations.

More could be done to include China in a reinvestment and commitment to multinational institutions.

More could arguably be done to engage non-state actors.

Can the notion of an international community acting in concert on agreed objectives and a shared assessment of the facts be recovered? This was not resolved. Will the criteria really apply in five years’ time to potential conflict between India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Israel and Hezbollah, Russia and its neighbours? The world has changed and the conversation needs to catch up. As with all Ditchley conferences, we were left with an appeal for leadership.

Not discussed

Ways to engage China and Russia were not discussed. The implications of the US arguably withdrawing from its global leadership role was left largely implicit, in particular the implications of withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. The current plan (on hold in the UN) for South Sudan presents an immediate test as does the ongoing situation in Yemen.


This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference. No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

CHAIR:  Professor The Hon Gareth Evans AC QC
Chancellor and Honorary Professorial Fellow, Australian National University (2010-). Formerly: President and CEO, International Crisis Group, Brussels (2000-09); Co-Chair, International Commissions on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (2008-10) and Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01); Member, United Nations Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2004); Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-96).


PARTICIPANTS (biographies as at June 2019):


Mr Pashtoon Atif 
Master of Public Policy (MPP) Candidate, St Peter's Collage, University of Oxford (2019); Afghanistan Country Director, GoodWeave. Formerly: humanitarian projects, including support for internally displaced people and the reintegration of ex‑combatants, United Nations Development Programme and USAID.

Dr Simon Adams 
Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, New York (2011‑); Vice Chairman, International Advisory Board, Skateistan; Board member, NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Formerly: Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International Engagement), Monash University; Vice President, South African campus, Monash University (2008‑10); NGOs, governments and community organisations in South Africa, East Timor, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

Mr Michael Sheldrick CitWa 
Co‑Founder and Vice President, Global Policy and Government Affairs, Global Citizen; Board Member, Ban Ki‑moon Centre for Global Citizens (2018‑); Executive Producer, Global Citizen Festival; Producer, Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

Ms Elissa Golberg 
Global Affairs Canada: Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy (2017‑). Formerly: Assistant Deputy Minister, Partnerships for Development Innovation (2015‑17); Canada's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament (2011‑15); Director‑General, Stabilisation and Reconstruction Task Force (2009‑11); Representative of Canada in Kandahar, Afghanistan (2008‑09); Executive Director, Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, Privy Council Office (2007); Director, Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Response Group, DFAIT (2005‑07).

Mr Timothy Krupa 
MPP/MBA Pershing Square Scholar, Blavatnik School of Government and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (2017‑19). Formerly: aide in the Office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mr Shuvaloy Majumdar 
Munk Senior Fellow, Macdonald‑Laurier Institute.

Ms Jill Sinclair
Senior Official for Global Affairs Canada, Ukraine Reform Conference 2019 and Canada's representative to the Ukraine Defence Reform Advisory Board. Formerly: Executive Director, Strategic Leadership and Engagement, Canadian Defence Academy (2014‑16); Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy); Department of External Affairs (1981‑2008): Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Foreign and Defence Policy, Privy Council Office (2006‑08); diplomatic posts in Prague, Havana, the Middle East; Canada's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (2003‑06); Director General, International Security Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs (2001‑03); Director, Arms Control and Non Proliferation (led the Ottawa Process to Ban Landmines and Responsibility to Protect).

Professor Shen Dingli 
Professor and former Executive Dean, Institute of International Studies, and former director, Center for American Studies, Fudan University; Honorary Visiting Professor, Washington University, St. Louis; Vice President, Chinese Association of South Asian Studies, Shanghai Association of International Strategic Studies, Shanghai Association of American Studies, Shanghai UN Research Association, Shanghai Public Policy Research Association; member, Global Council of Asia Society; published worldwide on topics covering China‑US security relations, regional security and international strategy, arms control and non-proliferation, foreign and defence policy of China and the US. Formerly: advisor to then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on strategic planning (2002); Eisenhower Fellow, 1996.

Miss Nora Topor‑Kalinskij 
Director for Sponsorship, Shaping Horizons, University of Cambridge. Formerly: European Affairs Analyst, Geopolitical Futures; Research assistant, Forum on Geopolitics, University of Cambridge; Project Lead, Wilberforce Society.

Dr Maha Hosain Aziz 
Professor, International Relations Program, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University; author, 'Future World Order' (2019); Visiting Fellow, Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics (LSE); writer on global risk, Medium; cartoonist of award-winning political comic book, 'The Global Kid' (2016). Formerly: columnist, Businessweek; blogger, Huffington Post; senior fellow, World Policy Institute; chairwoman, New Silk Road Generation; Senior Teaching Fellow, politics and International Studies Department, SOAS, University of London; C&J Modi/Narayanan Fellow, LSE.

Dr Alexander Shumilin 
Director, Europe and Middle East Centre, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Formerly: Director, Centre for Analysis of Middle East Conflict, Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

Mr Clive Baldwin 
Senior Legal Adviser, Human Rights Watch, New York/London (2007‑). Formerly: Head of Advocacy, Minority Rights Group International, London (2002‑07); Coordinator of Human Rights and Rule of Law Analysis and Reporting, OSCE Mission, Kosovo (2000‑02); Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE), London; Bindman and Partners, London.

Mr Jeremy Bowen
BBC (1984‑): Middle East Editor (2005‑). Foreign correspondent since 1987, including five years based in Jerusalem (1995‑2000).

Mr Martin Clements CMG OBE 

Visiting Professor, Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, University College London. Formerly: Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service (1983‑2016), latterly serving as Director General, Technology and Transformation, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Senior Information Risk Owner; postings in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe; British Army.

The Rt Hon. Sir Lawrence Freedman KCMG CBE FBA FKC 
Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King's College London. Formerly: Vice‑Principal, King's College London. Official Historian of Falklands Campaign and member of Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq War. An Honorary Governor of the Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Helen Frowe 
Director, Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace; Professor in Practical Philosophy and Wallenberg Academy Research Fellow, Stockholm University; Research Associate, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and the Institute for Futures Studies; author, 'Defensive Killing' (OUP, 2014) and 'The Ethics of War and Peace' (2011, 2015); co‑editor, 'How We Fight: Ethics in War', and 'Oxford Handbook of Ethics in War'.

The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG, CH 
Independent Member, House of Lords (2001‑); Member, International Relations Committee. Formerly: Member, EU Select Committee, House of Lords (2002‑06, 2008‑14); Chairman, United Nations Association of the UK (2006‑10); Member, UN Secretary‑General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2003‑04); British Government Special Representative for Cyprus (1996‑2003); HM Diplomatic Service (1959‑95): Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN (1990‑95); Permanent Representative to the European Community (1985‑90). A Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.

Dr Lucy Morgan Edwards 
Author, 'The Afghan Solution; the inside story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and how Western Hubris lost Afghanistan' (2011); member, Working Group on Propaganda and the 9/11 War on Terror. Formerly: Political Advisor (Security Sector Reform, civil military relations and narcotics) to the European Union Special Representative, Kabul (2004‑05); Country Expert to the EU Election Observation Mission (2005); Correspondent, The Economist, work on transitional justice for International Crisis Group, Election Monitor at Emergency Loya Jirga (2002); Programme Officer, community development schemes, (precursor to) National Solidarity Programme, Kandahar and Herat, prior to 9/11.

Mr Edward Mortimer CMG 
Distinguished Fellow, All Souls' College, Oxford; Senior Programme Adviser (and former Chief Programme Officer, 2007‑11), Salzburg Global Seminar. Formerly: Chief Speechwriter (1998‑2006) and Director of Communications (2001‑06) to the Secretary‑General, United Nations; Foreign Affairs Editor, Financial Times (1987‑98); Foreign Leader‑Writer, The Times (1973‑85); Prize Fellow, All Souls' College (1965‑72); Member, International Advisory Board, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Author, 'A Few Words on Intervention' (John Stuart Mill Institute, 1995). An Honorary Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

Sir Kieran Prendergast KCVO CMG 
Senior Advisor, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Geneva (2006‑); member, Council of Experts, Democratic Progress Institute, London. Formerly: UN Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs (1997‑2005); HM Diplomatic Service: British Ambassador to Turkey (1995‑97); High Commissioner to Kenya (1992‑95); to Zimbabwe (1989‑92).

Mr Carne Ross 
Founder and Director, Independent Diplomat (non‑profit diplomatic advisory group which gives advice on diplomatic strategy to democratic groups and governments, predominantly in conflict situations, including in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Western Sahara and Myanmar); author, two books on diplomacy and anarchism; print and broadcast commentator on world affairs. Formerly: Foreign & Commonwealth Office (1997‑2002).

Mr Simon Tisdall 
International and European Affairs leader‑writer and commentator, The Observer (2011‑); Foreign Affairs Commentator, The Guardian (2004‑). Formerly: Assistant Editor, The Guardian (1999‑2011); Chief Foreign Affairs leader‑writer, The Guardian (1999‑2004); Foreign Editor, The Guardian (1994‑98); Foreign Editor, The Observer (1996‑98); U.S. Editor and White House correspondent (1989‑94).

Dr Karen Smith 
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary‑General on the responsibility to protect (2018‑); lecturer in International Relations, Leiden University; honorary research associate, University of Cape Town; visiting professor, Sciences Po, Paris. Formerly: Associate Professor in International Relations, University of Cape Town (2011‑17); Universities of Stellenbosch (2000‑10) and Western Cape (2003‑04); Secretary‑General of the United Nations Association of South Africa (2006‑07).

The Hon. John Bellinger III 
Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, DC; Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly: Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC (2005‑09); Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (2001‑05); Counsel for National Security Matters, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice (1997‑2001); Of Counsel, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996); Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (1988‑91). A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Thomas Biersteker 
Gasteyger Professor of International Security and Director of Policy Research, The Graduate Institute, Geneva; author, 'State Sovereignty as Social Construct' (1996), 'Targeted Sanctions: The Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action' (2016). Formerly: Director, Programme for the Study of International Governance, The Graduate Institute; Director, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University; lecturer, Yale University and University of Southern California; principal developer, SanctionsApp (to increase access to information about targeted sanctions at the UN) (2013).

Major Joseph Chapa USAF 
Doctoral student in philosophy, University of Oxford.

Ambassador James Dobbins 
Senior Fellow and Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security, RAND Corporation. Formerly: US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2013‑14); Director, Center for International Security and Defense Policy, RAND Corporation; Bush Administration First Special Envoy for Afghanistan; Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for the Balkans; Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council Staff (1996‑99); US Ambassador to the European Community (1991‑93).

Mr Alexander El‑Fakir 
Formerly: Special Assistant, Advance Associate, The White House (2018‑19); Special Assistant to Mr. Jason Greenblatt, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, The White House (2017‑18); Research Analyst, Communications Department, The White House (2017); Fellow, The Public Interest Fellowship (2015‑17).

Ms Victoria Holt 
Managing Director, Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University. Formerly: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security, Bureau of International Organisation Affairs, U.S. Department of State (2009‑17); Senior Associate and Co‑Director, Future of Peace Operations program, Henry L. Stimson Center (2001‑09); Genocide Prevention Task Force (2007‑08); Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of State (Legislative Affairs) (1999‑2000); Director, projects on UN and peacekeeping (1994‑99); Senior defence and legislative staff to U.S. Members of Congress (1987‑94).

Mr Shamil Idriss 
Chief Executive Officer (formerly President, Chief Operating Officer and Burundi Country Director), Search for Common Ground, Washington, DC; Chairman and former CEO, Soliya. Formerly: Deputy Director, UN Alliance of Civilizations; established and served on steering committee of the World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders (2004‑05).

Dr Edward C. Luck 
Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University. Formerly: Dean, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego; United Nations Assistant Secretary‑General and Special Advisor to the Secretary‑General (2008‑12); Professor of professional practice, SIPA (2001‑10); Senior Vice President, International Peace Institute, New York; President and CEO, United Nations Association of the USA.

Chaplain (Colonel) Timothy Mallard PhD 
Command Chaplain (Colonel), U.S. Army Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany (2018‑); Adjunct Professor of Christian Ministry and Biblical Theology, Regent University (2019‑). Formerly: Cyber Center of Excellence Chaplain, U.S. Army Cyber Command, Georgia and Washington, DC (2014‑17); University Chaplain, U.S. Army War College (2011‑14); Division Chaplain, 1st Infantry Division, Iraq and Kansas (2010‑11); Brigade Chaplain, 101st Airborne Division, Iraq (2003).

Mr Thomas Pickering 
Vice Chairman, Hills and Company, Washington, DC; Consultant, The Boeing Company. Formerly: Senior Vice‑President International Relations and Member, Executive Council, The Boeing Company (2001‑06); Under‑Secretary of State for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State (1997‑2000); President, Eurasia Foundation (1996‑97); Ambassador of the U.S. to Russian Federation (1993‑96), to India (1992‑93); Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1989‑92); Ambassador to Israel (1985‑88), to El Salvador (1983‑85), to Nigeria (1981‑83), to Jordan (1974‑78). A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Admiral Michael S. Rogers, U.S. Navy (Retd) 
CEO, The MS Rogers Group LLC; Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Public Private Initiative, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; advisory board member, Australian American Leadership Dialogue; advisory board member, NATO Cyber Defence Center of Excellence; board of directors, United States Naval Institute. Formerly: U.S. Navy, retiring as a four‑star admiral (1981‑2018); Director, National Security Agency and Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (2014‑18); Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet; Director for Intelligence, Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Pacific Command.

The Hon Nicholas Rostow PhD JD 
Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School. Formerly: Charles Evans Hughes Visiting Professor of Government and Jurisprudence, Colgate University (2016‑18); University Professor, Senior Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University (2011‑15); University Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs, State University of New York (2006‑10); General Counsel and Senior Policy Adviser to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2001‑05); Special Assistant to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush for National Security Affairs and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (1987‑93).

Mr Jeremy Shapiro 
Director of Research, European Council on Foreign Relations (2015‑). Formerly: Fellow, Project on International Order and Strategy, and Foreign Policy Program, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution; Senior Adviser, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Director of Research, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution; Non‑Resident Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations; Adjunct Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University; Policy Analyst, RAND, Washington, DC. A Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Casimir A. Yost 
Adjunct Professor/Senior Fellow, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University. Formerly: Director, Strategic Futures Group, National Intelligence Council (2011‑13); Director, Long Range Analysis Unit, National Intelligence Council (2009‑11); Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (1994‑2009): Marshall B. Coyne Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Director, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and Co‑Chair, Schlesinger Working Group on Strategic Surprises; Director, Center for Asian Pacific Affairs, Asia Foundation (1990‑94). A Member of the Board of Directors of the American Ditchley Foundation.