Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation 2019

Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation students April 2019ICCS students together with practitioners for annual training programme

In April 2019, the ICCS hosted its sixth annual training programme on Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation at the University of Birmingham. The programme brought together students, researchers and practitioners from around the world to learn about the different approaches to conflict resolution in International Relations. 


Gabrielle Rifkind (Keynote) is a group analyst and specialist in conflict resolution. She is a senior consultant to the Strategic Peacebuilding Programme in the Oxford Research Group and Director of the Oxford Process, an independent preventive diplomacy initiative pioneered through her dialogue work with Oxford Research Group. Gabrielle combines in-depth political and psychological expertise with many years’ experience in promoting serious analysis and dialogue. Her special areas of interest are Iran and the Palestine-Israel conflict. As a political entrepreneur, she has a deep understanding of human behaviour and motivation. Gabrielle is the convener and founder of the Middle East Policy Initiative Forum and has facilitated a number of Track II roundtables in the Middle East on the Israel-Palestine conflict, as well as on the Iran conflict. Committed to trying to understand the mindset of the region, she has both facilitated meetings with and spent time talking to the leadership in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and ‘Western’ states.

Dr Tereza Capelos is Senior Lecturer in political psychology at the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security and Programme Director for the Global Cooperation and Security MSc. Her research focuses on the affective, cognitive and motivational determinants of political judgments. She is particularly interested in the role of emotions and values on political radicalization and tolerance, the formation and updating of institutional and individual reputations and the role of trust and confidence on political accountability attributions.

 Dr Naomi Head is Senior Lecturer of Politics at the University of Glasgow and an Honorary Research Fellow in Communication and Conflict at ICCS. Her research focuses on the relationships between legitimacy, communication, emotions, empathy, and political violence.  Her research is influenced by critical theory and constructivism and the empirical dimensions of her work include the Balkan conflicts and the dynamics of the Security Council, the role of dialogue, trust and empathy in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and the dynamics of empathy in protracted conflict which focuses on Israel and Palestine.

Dr Joan McGregor is a South African who worked to end the minority led apartheid system, which segregated South Africans based on colour and access to resources.  Leading up to and following the first democratic election in 1994 her work focused on rebuilding the broken relationships in that society; working for an inclusive and just society where all citizens would be treated with equality.  She was an active member of a community based mediation group.

She is currently based in Birmingham, UK.  She works in conflict transformation in many different ways on request from a range of clients.  Each consultancy is tailor-made to meet the requirements of the clients.  In addition to her work in conflict transformation internationally, Joan also teaches practical mediation skills at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London; at the annual Spring School, at the Mindanao Institute for Peace (MPI) where she offers two modules: From Understanding to Action: designing conflict sensitive interventions; and Culture and Identity as Resources for Peace.  Joan also taught and for several years convened the masters level module Conflict Humanitarian Aid and Social Reconstruction in the Department of International Development at the University of Birmingham.  Joan has been responsible for these two days of the ICCS training programme since its inception.

In 2007 Joan completed an MA in Conflict and Peace Studies at Coventry University and in 2016 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Birmingham in recognition of her fifty years of working in conflict transformation.

Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation, and Security at the University of Birmingham.  His publications include: (with Ken Booth) The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation, and Trust in World Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); (edited with Jean-Marc Coicaud) National Interest Versus Solidarity: Particular and Universal Ethics in International Life (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2008); (with Ian Clark) The British Origins of Nuclear Strategy 1945-55 (Oxford: Oxford University Press). He has also written widely on humanitarian intervention and is the author of Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). His new book, Trusting Enemies is under contract with Oxford University Press. He was the academic lead on the Sixth Birmingham Policy Commission on ‘The Security Impact of Drones: Challenges and Opportunities for the UK’ and was the PI on an ESRC funded project under RCUK's 'Science and Security' programme on 'The Political Effects of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on Conflict and Cooperation Within and Between States'. He is co-editor with Professor Christian Reus-Smit and Professor Evelyn Goh of the prestigious Cambridge Series in International Relations.


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Welcome (Professor Mark Webber)

Overview of the training programmee (Professor Nicolas Wheeler and Dr Tereza Capelos)

Trusting Enemies through face to face diplomacy (Professor Nicolas Wheeler)

Overcoming the dynamics of India Pakistan mistrust: Role Play (Professor Nicolas Wheeler and Dr Terza Capelos)

Participants were split in teams and they took on the role of Indian and Pakistani senior diplomats in bilateral negotiations. Team members presented their positions and, supported by the facilitators, engaged in dialogue with the aim to explore possibilities of reaching common ground.

Keynote speech: Preparing the parties psychologically around the peace (Gabrielle Rifkind)

Practical Skills for Transformative Mediation (Dr Joan McGregor)

These two days provided a “hands-on” opportunity to experience mediation as one of a range of third party (non-military) interventions that can be applied at many different levels and by a range of actors in situations of conflict, violence and post settlement social reconstruction. By the end of these two days participants had deepened their knowledge of transformative mediation as one approach in dispute resolution, and they had an opportunity to participate in practical exercises to develop the skills necessary for mediation and other forms of third-party Interventions. These sessions introduced core practical skills and techniques for the Friday simulation.

Emotional decision-making in crisis and conflict (Dr Tereza Capelos)

Examining how emotions facilitate information searching, promote civic engagement, stimulate fight and fright responses, determine policy preferences, and provoke engagement or disengagement with members of in-groups and outgroups. Participants engaged with the concepts of emotion appraisal and regulation, and apply these insights to understanding the role of emotions in crises and conflicts.

TBD (Prof. Paul Schulte)

The role of empathy in mediation (Dr Naomi Head)

What are the theoretical and practical challenges to developing empathy in deeply adversarial contexts? Examples were drawn from recent work in Israel and Palestine.

The future of Hebron (Harvard role play)

A one and a half day simulation game exploring the deteriorating relations in Hebron. Participants assumed different roles across the divide in order to negotiate a complex set of agreements involving land rights, security frameworks, and border controls.

Simulation debrief (Dr Naomi Head)

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