Our speakers are drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, combining theoretical expertise and practical experience of managing international conflicts. They include:

Speakers 2020

Dr Diana Francis, a Quaker, is a former President of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and for many years chaired the CCTS, a group of professionals in the field of peacebuilding. She is a founding member of Rethinking Security’s Council. An affiliate of Conciliation Resources, she has worked with many organisations to support local peacemakers, in countries part of the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Empire, in Africa, the Middle East and South and South East Asia. She is an activist, writer and public speaker on gender, peace, power and transformation, including the demilitarisation of culture and of policy related to conflict, security and international relations.

Dr Katherine Brown is Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies and Head of the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. Katherine is interested in Muslim women's involvement in violent religious politics, specifically Islam. Her work examines the ways in which gendered jihadi narratives motivate and enfranchise, and how they combine with everyday experiences of living and politics. She also examines how counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programmes impact on religious women’s rights and Muslim communities. Katherine has worked for the UN on gender-mainstreaming in countering violent extremism, worked with the EU on providing talks on violent extremism and radical beliefs, and provided academic oversight for think tanks, including RUSI and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Katherine has written research briefs for the UK Ministry of Defence, and participated in Track 1.5 security dialogue talks in Australia with the foreign office.


Katherine Brown is Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies and Head of the Department of Theology & Religion at the University of Birmingham. Her research looks at Resistance, Gender and Political Islam, and is concerned with the re-theorising and ‘gendering’ of religious resistance and politics. Her work examines the ways in which gendered jihadi narratives motivate and enfranchise, and how they combine with everyday experiences of living and politics. She also examines how counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programmes impact on religious women’s rights and Muslim communities.  The focus also offers a critical gendered examination of the securitisation of religion in a post 9/11 world. Her work is also involved with anti-extremist movements and the discourses on human rights that often frame their engagement with the public sphere.

Dr Katherine E. Brown, Department of Theology and Religion
Dr Tereza Capelos is Senior Lecturer in political psychology at the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security. 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.

Dr Naomi Head is Senior Lecturer of Politics at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on the relationships between legitimacy, communication, emotions, empathy, and political violence.  Her work includes 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 the protracted conflict between 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 currently works in conflict transformation in many different ways and teaches practical mediation skills at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London; at the Mindanao Institute for Peace (MPI). In 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Birmingham in recognition of her fifty years of working in conflict transformation. 

Joan Mcgregor
Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham.  He has written widely on the security dilemma, British nuclear strategy, and humanitarian intervention. His most recent book, Trusting Enemies: Interpersonal Relationships in International Conflict, was published in 2018. He was the academic lead on the Birmingham Policy Commission on ‘The Security Impact of Drones’ and led an ESRC-funded project 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.
Nicholas J. Wheeler


Past keynote speakers

Lord Alderdice is a Senior Research Fellow and the Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict based at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.  From 1987 to 1998, he was the Leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party and one of the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement.  Then from 1998 he was appointed the first Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and retired in 2004 on being appointed an international commissioner overseeing security normalization in Ireland, a position he held until 2011. He was also from 2005 to 2009 President of Liberal International (the world-wide federation of liberal political parties) and in 2015 was awarded the Liberal International Prize for Freedom and elected a life President d'Honneur of the organization. He is an Elder of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and his special academic interest is the psychology of fundamentalism, radicalization and political violence.

Andrew Barlow has worked on nuclear arms control and non-proliferation for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for many years (from 1978 to 1981 and from 1987 to now).  He has worked both on multilateral treaties like the NPT, CTBT and projected FMCT and on specific proliferation problems like Libya and Iran.  From 1977 to 1978 and from 1981 to 1987 he worked for the UK Atomic Energy Authority, where he had a good overview of civil nuclear activity in the UK.  His academic background is in Modern History and International Politics.     

Alan Charlton was British Ambassador to Brazil from 2008-2013, a time when the British Government was making a major effort to develop its relationship with Brazil. Before that he was Deputy Ambassador to the United States (2004-2008) and Deputy Ambassador to Germany (1998-2000).  He also served in Berlin before, during and after the Fall of the Wall and dealt throughout his career with issues relating to the Middle East. He was Deputy Chief of the Cabinet Office Assessments Staff during the Iraq-Kuwait war before his most challenging appointment as a Head of Department leading on policy at the FCO on Former Yugoslavia from 1993-1996. He was the Deputy of the UK Delegation at the Dayton Peace conference on Bosnia in 1995. He was made a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1996 and a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 2007.

Sir Richard Dalton is a former British Diplomat who has served as Consul-General in Jerusalem 1993-1997, Ambassador to Libya 1999-2000, and Ambassador to Iran 2002-2006. He is currently Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, and recently became a board member of the American Iranian Council.

Dr Rob Dixon has been Deputy Ambassador at the British Embassy in Israel since 2012, prior to which he served as Principal Private Secretary to the UK’s National Security Advisor helping to establish the National Security Council from its inception in May 2010. During this time he worked on a wide range of foreign and domestic security issues. Prior to this, Rob served at Private Secretary to the Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Head of North Africa in the FCO, and the UK Mission to the UN in Geneva. Rob holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick is a senior British diplomat, who has held a number of prestigious positions including: Minister at the British Embassy in Washington, DC 1984-1985; Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Communities (EC) 1985-1990; UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN 1990–95; British Special Representative for Cyprus 1996–2003. Lord Hannay is currently the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-Proliferation and a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Nigel Inkster is Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He served for 31 years in the British Secret intelligence Service (SIS). He had postings in Asia, Latin America and Europe and worked extensively on transnational security issues. He was on the Board of SIS (commonly known as MI6) for seven years, the last two as Assistant Chief and Director for Operations and Intelligence. He graduated from St. John’s College Oxford with a first-class degree in oriental studies. His languages include Chinese and Spanish. He is the former Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Committee on Terrorism and a current member of the WEF Council on Cyber Security.

Gabrielle Rifkind 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.

Professor Paul Schulte served as Director of Defence Organisation in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad; Founding Head of the U.K.’s interdepartmental Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit (now the Stabilisation Unit); Chief Speechwriter for two UK Defence Secretaries, John Reid and Des Browne; had a distinguished career as a civil servant in the Ministry of Defence; was MODUK’s Director of Proliferation and Arms Control; and UK Commissioner on the UN Commissions for Iraqi Disarmament: UNSCOM and UNMOVIC during the long Iraqi Compliance Crisis. He also is an Honorary Professor in the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at Birmingham University. He is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College, University of London, and a research associate of the School of Oriental and African Studies.  He is a member of the University of Birmingham Policy Commission on Remote Warfare and of UK Pugwash and a regular participant in the CSIS US, UK and French Nuclear Trilateral process.